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Water: Adaptation Plan - Goals and Adaptation Strategies

These are the goals and adaptation strategies demanded through the community workshops used to develop the Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Navajo Nation.

Adjudicate Water Rights

Water is life, and is a fundamental right to every human being. Therefore, when discussing the Navajo Nation's water issues, it is known that our water rights need to be updated. Community members want to revisit current Navajo and Non-Navajo water rights and establish a permanent right to a sustainable amount of water. They also want to see water rights previously allocated to the tribe to be followed through. This would include seeking expert advice to adjudicate current water rights. This topic of water rights included filing water use under the Water Code. Members also want to discuss establishing a permitting system and collect/provide data that justifies water needs.

Recycle Water

The workshops decided on the need to update both the Drought Contingency Plan of 2003 and the Water Resources Development Strategy. Also, they want to send a copy of these plans to the community leaders in order for them to learn and practice both regulations. Since the Navajo Nation is not the same ecosystem throughout, drought effects different regions in different ways. Therefore, there is a need to develop drought mitigation measures for each region on the Navajo Nation and prioritize each region. Using this division of regions, there can be an strategy to implement objectives from both documents.

Protect, Preserve, and Restore Watersheds

Community members stressed the need to use the Water Resource Strategy document to construct and/or repair dams, wells, solar powered windmills, vegetation reconstruction. This would help ensure the recharging of our natural aquifers. Also, members want to revisit the Little Colorado River Water Settlement and water level. With this revisit, members want to develop a conservation plan for the entire Navajo Nation. Some examples for what to address in a conservation plan are: erosion control; grass replanting; livestock removal by cancelling and deferring permits from the permittees.

Provide Reliable Water Supply

Through the workshops, members discussed the need to amend the Homesite Lease regulations. Doing this will help the Navajo government and other entities provide adequate water to Navajo home sites. Will the development of more environmentally conscious building modifications, there should be a requirement for water and energy efficient designs in buildings. Before doing this, members agreed that the Navajo Nation needs to create building codes for all building on the reservation. With the upgrade in potential water efficient buildings, there should also be a emphasis on systems that incorporate use of grey water for plants (not for consumption) which will need a permit from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA). With large supplies of grey water, the Navajo Nation will need to establish a collection system that can transport, prepare and utilize grey water.

Clean Water

The Navajo Nation has had a long fight for the right to have clean water. Thus, the community members were adamant in stating the need to stop the use of the ground water for industrial use, specifically for mining. They also said that they want to see the Navajo Nation revisit the current water rights pertaining to the General Leasing Act.

Ensure High Quality Water for All Users

To accomplish this, community members want to evaluate and assess the Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR). This process helps communities adapt to the increasing effects of droughts throughout the southwest.

Provide Educational Outreach

Revive 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) in schools. Coordinate with these schools to establish a natural resource curriculum.

Secure Funding for Local Communities for Natural Resource Management

The community members communicated the need to coordinate with NTUA to implement tiered rate on water usage. This would mean there would be a system in place that would reward people who use less than a set amount of water with lower rates, compared to those who use larger amounts of water. Community members also want to create community driven projects, such as drip irrigation, water harvesting, usage of straw bales, selecting water efficient crops only, and implementing home-based education on natural resources over school driven.

Obtain More Water Statistics and Data

To establish a foundation to start collecting data, a complete assessment of earthen dam conditions with Navajo Department of Water Resources needs to be done. From this assessment, rehabilitation plans can be established. Also, create and implement a plan for the earthen dams. Community members also want to contract outside companies for projects in order to get projects completed in a timely manner. Another idea that was proposed was the act of placing a “freeze” on livestock water due to the lack of filing from farmers and ranchers with the Water Code section. Also, pay for the water being used upfront. An upgrade that needs to happen is the move to provide water to last year-round, per water source. A good way to recycle water is the process of using “dirty” water for compaction, construction, and other non-consumptive uses. Lastly, community leaders want to dam-up all run-off water sources in order to conserve more water.


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