Navajo Irrigation--San Juan-Chama Diversion.
The hearing today is on S. 3648, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate, and maintain the Navajo Indian irrigation project and the initial stage of the San Juan-Chama project as participating projects of the Colorado River storage project.
We are glad to welcome the distinguished senior Senator from New Mexico, Mr. Chavez, a cosponsor with me of the bill; the able Representative from New Mexico, Mr. Montoya, and the distinguished Governor of New Mexico, Hon. Edwin L. Mechem.
The Navajo irrigation development and the San Juan-Chama diversion have been under more or less active investigation for a quarter of a century. Every possible phase of each development has been thoroughly engineered. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been expended in studying water supply, irrigation potentials, soil conditions, and every other economic phase.
These phases included the plight of the Navajo Indians and their urgent need for rehabilitation, through irrigation and development of agricultural and mineral resources, municipal water supplies for the expanding cities and towns downstream in New Mexico.
The signing into law on April 11, 1956, of legislation authorizing construction of the Colorado River storage project was the culmination of half a century of research, study, and congressional attention. Some of the engineering studies and land withdrawals were made as early as 1904.
From 1904 until the present, we have travelled a long, hard road. The seven Colorado River Basin States spent much time and study over a number of years before ratifying the Colorado River compact in 1922.
The Colorado River compact was intended to make possible development of both upper and lower basins of the Colorado River. It recognized a dividing point between the upper and lower basins at Lee's Ferry, Ariz. The compact provides that the upper basin may consume 7.5 million acre-feet of water each year.
The final agreement to the terms of the compact was a major step forward in opening the way for legislation to authorize the project. Actually, we could say that this was really the beginning, because 34 years passed before the upper basin got its projects signed into law, although the lower basin had begun its construction 20 years earlier.
The Navajo and San Juan-Chama projects, as part of the upper Colorado River storage project will be constructed and operated under the terms of the Colorado River compact of 1922, and the upper basin compact approved by Congress April 6, 1949.
Much has been said in the Congress, in the press, and at gatherings around the Nation relative to the value of the upper Colorado River project and the various participating projects. Many persons have questioned the wisdom of this and other such projects. But they are in the minority.
The Upper Colorado River Basin is one of the Nation's most important storehouses of natural resources. This vast treasure chest may forever lie unopened unless the waters of the Colorado River and its tributaries are put to use.
The purpose of the Navajo irrigation project and the San Juan-Chama project is to provide water for municipal use, water for agriculture and water for the development of oil and gas, coal, uranium, and the many other minerals and resources that are found in the northwest part of New Mexico and that are of strategic importance to the safety and welfare of the entire country. Only time will tell how great a contribution these projects will make to the economy of the Southwest and the Nation as a whole, but it certainly will be large.
We are all gratified to know that a contract has been awarded for the construction of the Navajo Dam which will begin storing water for the irrigation of more than 100,000 acres of Navajo Indian land under the irrigation project.
The bill under discussion today makes provision for the authorization of the irrigation part of the Navajo project. This will include transporting water from the Navajo Dam to Indian lands to bring not only new hope but new opportunities to the more than 80,000 Navajo Indians in New Mexico and Arizona.
Once the Navajo irrigation project is in operation, we will have fulfilled some of the promises made to the Navajos in the treaty of 1868. We will have provided water for domestic use for the growing of much desired specialty crops, such as fruit and vegetables, and for feed for livestock, all of which are badly needed to improve the health and welfare of the Navajo Indians.
Some of the world's most valuable and vitally needed minerals are in the northwest part of New Mexico. Among them are oil, natural gas, and uranium. Development of these raw materials requires water and power as well as people, who in turn must have water for cities and towns. The Navajo irrigation project, along with the storage facilities of the Navajo Dam, will fill this need.
San Juan-Chama project: The San Juan-Chama project, authorized in this bill, would permit utilization of unappropriated waters of the San Juan River allocated to the State of New Mexico under the terms of the upper Colorado River compact.
Since studies of the feasibility of this project began, the population growth in the cities and communities along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico has been phenomenal. Large defense installations have been established at Albuquerque, Los Alamos, White Sands, and Alamogordo.
The Indian communities along the Rio Grande, to cope with their health and sanitation problems, must have an increasing supply of domestic water. Small farming communities on tributary streams in northern New Mexico must have supplemental irrigation water to which they are entitled.
The San Juan-Chama transmountain diversion project will initially transport about 110,000 acre-feet of water annually into the Rio Grande River. The San Juan River is our last large source of water in New Mexico. This water will relieve our present situation and permit the use of water than would otherwise go on down the Colorado. We cannot afford to delay this project indefinitely. It is important to the Nation as well as our State.
In summary, by the Colorado River compacts, New Mexico has been awarded 800,000 acre-feet of water annually from the San Juan River. Without the Navajo irrigation project and the San Juan-Chama project, we will never be able to put this water to beneficial use.
S. 3648, together with the report of the Department of Interior, dated July 8, 1958, signed by Fred G. Aandahl, Assistant Secretary of Interior on S. 3648, and a copy of the proposed coordinated report on the San Juan-Chama project, Colorado-New Mexico; and the Navajo project, New Mexico, dated September 6, 1957; will be inserted in the record at this point.
A BILL To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate, and maintain the Navajo Indian irrigation project and the initial stage of the San Juan-Chama project as participating projects of the Colorado River storage project, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Congress hereby approves as participating projects of the Colorado River storage project the Navajo Indian irrigation project as described in the Bureau of Indian Affairs report entitled ‘‘Navajo Project, New Mexico Feasibility Report, January 1955’’, and as modified by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Supplemental Report entitled ‘‘Navajo Project, New Mexico Supplemental Report, 1957, to Feasibility Report, January 1955’’, and the San Juan-Chama project as described in the Bureau of Reclamation report entitled ‘‘San Juan-Chama Project, Colorado-New Mexico, November, 1955’’, such project plans and reports having been prepared and submitted as required under the provisions of the Act of April 11, 1956 (70 Stat. 105).
Sec. 2. Pursuant to the provisions of the Act of April 11, 1956 (70 Stat. 105), the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to construct the Navajo Indian irrigation project to include a net area of one hundred and ten thousand six hundred and thirty acres of land with an average annual diversion requirement of five hundred and eight thousand acre-feet of water, the repayment of the costs of construction thereof to be in accordance with the provisions of said Act of April 11, 1956 (70 Stat. 105), including, but not limited to, section 4 (d) thereof.
Sec. 4. In developing the Navajo Indian irrigation project, the Secretary is authorized to provide capacity for municipal and industrial water supplies or miscellaneous purposes over and above the diversion requirements for irrigation stated in section 2 of this act. But such additional capacity shall not be constructed and no appropriation of funds for such construction shall be made unless, prior thereto, contracts have been executed which, in the judgment of the Secretary, provide satisfactory assurance of repayment of all costs properly allocated to the purposes aforesaid with interest as provided by law.
Sec. 5. The Navajo Indian irrigation project shall be constructed, operated, and maintained subject to the provisions of section 4 of the Act of April 11, 1956 (43 U. S. C. 620c), to the same extent as if such project were authorized by section 1 of said Act (43 U. S. C. 620). Payment of operation and maintenance charges of the irrigation features of the Navajo Indian irrigation project shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Act of August 7, 1946 (60 Stat. 867): Provided, That the Secretary of the Interior in his discretion may transfer to the Navajo Tribe of Indians the care, operation, and maintenance of all or any part of the Navajo Indian irrigation project works, subject to such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, and, in such event, the Secretary may transfer to the Navajo Tribe title to movable property necessary to the operation and maintenance of project works.
Sec. 6. Pursuant to the provisions of the act of April 11, 1956 (70 Stat. 105), the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to construct, operate, and maintain an initial stage of the San Juan-Chama project, in accordance with the Bureau of Reclamation report entitled ‘‘Supplemental Report, San Juan-Chama Project, Colorado-New Mexico, May 1957’’, said initial stage to have an average annual diversion of one hundred and ten thousand acre-feet of water.
Sec. 8. Section 12 of the Act of April 11, 1956 (70 Stat. 105) shall not apply to the works authorized by this Act. There are hereby authorized to be appropriated out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such funds as may be required to carry out the purposes of this Act, but not to exceed $208,000,000.
Dear Senator Murray: This responds to your request for the views of this Department on S. 3648, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate, and maintain the Navajo Indian irrigation project and the initial stage of the San Juan-Chama project as participating projects of the Colorado River storage project, and for other purposes.
A proposed coordinated planning report on the Navajo Indian irrigation project and the San Juan-Chama project has been prepared jointly by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and the Commissioner of Reclamation, and has been approved and adopted by this Department. Copies have been sent to the affected States for review under the Flood Control Act of 1944 and the act of August 14, 1946, and to the interested Federal agencies for review under existing law and interagency agreements. Since the processing of the report has not yet been completed, we are not in a position to make any recommendation with respect to the enactment or provisions of the bill. It is suggested that the committee may wish to defer action on authorizing legislation until the planning report has been submitted to the Congress.
The proposed plan of development for the Navajo Indian irrigation project contemplates the construction of facilities to provide a water supply for the irrigation of lands to be developed solely for Indian use. The preservation and propagation of fish and wildlife would be a purpose of the project. The plan would not provide specific works for recreation or flood-control benefits.
Prior to construction of the project, studies of incremental canal capacity would be made to determine the feasibility of conveying domestic and industrial water supplies for potential requirements as recommended in the proposed planning report. Officials of the State of New Mexico anticipate that a relatively large industrial water demand will develop in the San Juan River Basin. This would be accompanied by associated water requirements for municipal, domestic, and miscellaneous purposes in the adjacent areas. Prospective municipal and industrial water users have already expressed interest in receiving water from the proposed Navajo Canal and have approached the Department in that regard. Section 4 of S. 3648 would authorize the provision of additional capacity for such purposes over and above the diversion requirements for irrigation on the Navajo Indian irrigation project.
Water for irrigation of the lands proposed to be included in the Navajo Indian irrigation project would be diverted from Navajo Reservoir which is now under construction as a storage unit of the Colorado River storage project. A main gravity canal would extend from Navajo Dam to Kutz Canyon. There the water would be dropped through a powerplant to develop electrical energy for pumping water to lands in the Newcomb and Bennett Peak areas of the project. The main canal would extend an additional 77 miles beyond the powerplant to serve project lands.
A net area of 110,630 acres of irrigable land has been proposed for development. The area would include off-reservation lands to be acquired in the South San Juan division and Navajo Indian Reservation lands in the Shiprock division. Section 3 of S. 3648 would provide authority for the acquisition and addition of the off-reservation lands to the proposed project. The project's productive area, which would exclude farmsteads and other nonproductive areas within farm units, would comprise (a) 8,918 acres served by gravity below the main canal in the South San Juan division and 70,350 acres in the Shiprock division. and (b) 25,882 acres served from the pump canals in the Shiprock division, or a total of about 105,100 acres. An average annual diversion of about 508,000 acre-feet of water from San Juan River would be required for that purpose. This would result in an average annual stream depletion of about 252,000 acre-feet, exclusive of reservoir losses.
The estimated construction cost of the proposed Navajo Indian irrigation project is about $135 million at January 1958 prices. Operation, maintenance, and replacement costs are estimated to average about $481,000 annually at January 1958 prices for both 50-year and 100-year periods of analysis. The benefit-cost ratio for the project would be 0.64 to 1 on the basis of direct irrigation benefits only, and 1.44 to 1 on the basis of total irrigation benefits. The appraisal of annual economic costs includes the $2 per acre-foot depletion charge of the storage project assigned to all participating projects for all benefit-cost ratio purposes.
As provided by sections 4 (d) and 6 of Public Law 485, 84th Congress (70 Stat. 105), authorizing the Colorado River storage project and participating projects, in the event that the Navajo participating project is authorized, payment of costs allocated to irrigation of Indian-owned, tribal or restricted lands within, under, or served by such project within the capability of the land to repay is subject to the act of July 1, 1932 (47 Stat. 564); the costs beyond the capability of such lands to repay are to be determined and, in recognition of the fact that assistance to the Navajo Indians is the responsibility of the entire Nation, shall be nonreimbursable.
The proposed plan of development for the San Juan-Chama project is designed to improve and stabilize the economy of the water deficient Rio Grande and Canadian River Basins of New Mexico by providing supplemental water to meet rapidly increasing needs. This would be accomplished by diverting water from the upper tributaries of the San Juan River. The water would be used for supplemental irrigation, for replacement of watershed depletions in the Rio Grande Basin, and for an additional supply for municipal, domestic, and industrial purposes. Recreation and the preservation and propagation of fish and wildlife would also be purposes of the project. On the basis of January 1958 prices, the estimated construction cost for the project facilities studied in the plan of development is about $149 million. The evaluated total annual benefits for such a development would exceed the estimated annual costs in a ratio of about 1.7 to 1.
The proposed plan for initial stage development of the San Juan-Chama project, as recommended by the State of New Mexico, contemplates an average annual diversion of about 110,000 acre-feet from the San Juan River for utilization in the Rio Grande in New Mexico. The imported waters would be used for an additional municipal and industrial water supply (57,300 acre-feet) for the city of Albuquerque; a supplemental irrigation water supply (30,100 acre-feet) to about 39,300 acres of land in the Cerro, Taos, Llano, and Pojoaque tributary irrigation units in the Rio Grande Basin in New Mexico; and supplemental water (22,600 acre-feet) for irrigation of about 81,600 acres of irrigable land in the existing Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. Recreation and the preservation and propagation of fish and wildlife would also be purposes of the initial stage of development.
The proposed plan of development for the initial stage would involve three major elements, namely, diversion facilities (diversion dams and conduits), regulation facilities (Heron No. 4 Dam and Reservoir, and enlargement of outlet works of the existing El Vado Dam), and water use facilities (principally for the tributary irrigation units). Minimum basic recreation facilities would also be provided at the five project reservoirs.
The estimated construction cost of the project features of the proposed initial stage, on the basis of January 1958 prices, is about $86 million, which includes $400,000 for minimum basic recreation facilities. Project operation, maintenance, and replacement costs are estimated at about $346,000 annually for a 50-year period and about $378,000 annually for a 100-year period. Of the estimated project construction costs, reimbursable allocations of about $29,200,000 have been made tentatively to municipal and industrial water supply, $53,400,000 to irrigation, and $3 million to future uses. The recreation costs would be non-reimbursable. The proposed initial stage development would have engineering feasibility and would be economically justified in that the evaluated total benefits would exceed the estimated annual costs in a ratio of 1.26 to 1 for a 100-year period of analysis. If direct benefits only are considered in a 50-year period of analysis, that ratio would be about 0.81 to 1.
Cost allocated to municipal and industrial water supply, including interest during construction, would be repaid over a 50-year period with interest on the unamortized balance. The total to be paid by the municipal and industrial water users would be about $58,600,000. The cost of raw municipal and industrial water would be about 7.7 cents per 1,000 gallons, or about $25 per acre-foot.
This estimated municipal and industrial water rate would apply to water developed by initial stage construction. Repayment contract terms and water rates under subsequent development would be subject to reexamination as plans develop and additional quantities of municipal and industrial water would be contracted. Where necessary, in the adequate financing of any subsequent development, water rates and repayment provisions could be designed to reflect any significant change in municipal and industrial use, operation, and maintenance costs associated therewith and other relevant considerations.
Irrigation water users probably would repay about $8 million of the allocation to irrigation. Repayment contracts would be negotiated and entered into with organizations of the type provided in section 4 of the Colorado River Storage Project Act of April 11, 1956 (70 Stat. 105), for contracting on the participating projects authorized by section 1 of that act. The costs allocated to irrigation in excess of the irrigators' ability to repay would be paid from New Mexico's apportionment of the Upper Colorado River Basin fund revenues as provided in the act. Costs allocated to future uses, which would involve the provision of excess capacity in the initial stage to permit later project expansion, would also be an obligation against New Mexico's share of the basin fund revenues, to be paid from that apportionment if not otherwise collected as a result of subsequent allocations to the water users.
S. 3648, if enacted, would approve the above-described proposed projects as participating projects of the authorized Colorado River storage project and authorize the construction of the Navajo Indian irrigation project and the initial stage of the San Juan-Chama project. Authorization of an irrigation development such as the proposed Navajo Indian irrigation project would implement the recognition given in the act of April 11, 1956, of the Nation's responsibility to help alleviate the severe economic distress among the Navajo people by providing them an opportunity to earn a respectable standard of living. It would enable an estimated 1,400 families to establish homes on irrigated farms. The proposed project has the support of the Navajo Indian Tribe and it is our understanding that an on-the-farm training program, financed with tribal funds, has been undertaken already to prepare members of the tribe for irrigation farming.
A development such as that which is embraced in the initial stage of the proposed San Juan-Chama project might help materially to meet the pressing need for additional supplies of water in the Rio Grande Basin where the uses of water have been developed to the point where they far exceed available supplies. This need of the Rio Grande Basin vitally affects the welfare of more than half of the population of New Mexico and, if it is not satisfied in the near future, threatens to check the economic development of the State. Besides the requirements for irrigation, more water is needed to meet the domestic requirements of a growing urban population and of industry, particularly in the Albuquerque area.
While we are unable to make any recommendations with respect to the enactment or provisions of the bill in the absence of final processing of the project planning report and its submission to the Congress, our examination of S. 3648 prompts us to bring to the committee's attention certain of its provisions, in the interest of clarification and elimination of possible technical difficulties, as well as information which we have regarding the water supply that would be affected by the construction of the proposed project.
Section 7 would provide a procedure for the sharing of water during periods of water shortage applicable in the case of water-stored in Navajo Reservoir and any other waters of the San Juan River and its tributaries originating above Navajo Dam to which the United States is entitled. This sharing principle, we understand, is the desire of the State of New Mexico and the Navajo Tribe.
Officials of the State of New Mexico, we are advised, made several river and reservoir operation studies which culminated in operation study No. 8 as the basis for the language of section 7 (a). Our review and analysis of operation study No. 8 indicates that the State officials assumed certain methods of applying the water-sharing formula which are not clearly indicated in the language of section 7 (a). If the procedures used in performing operation study No. 8 are to be taken as the proper manner for determining each contractor's share of water during times of shortage, and we understand that they are, section 7 (a) might be amended to state more clearly what these procedures are to be. In order to do this, section 7 (a) could be revised to read substantially as follows:
‘‘Sec. 7 (a) No person shall have or be entitled to have the use for any purpose, including uses under the Navajo Indian irrigation project and the initial stage of the San Juan-Chama project authorized by sections 2 and 6 of this Act, of water stored in Navajo Reservoir or of any other waters of the San Juan River and its tributaries originating above Navajo Reservoir to the use of which the United States is entitled, except under contract satisfactory to the Secretary of the Interior and conforming to the provisions of this Act. Such contracts, which, in the case of water for Indian uses, shall be executed with the Navajo Tribe, shall make provision, in any year in which the Secretary anticipates a shortage taking into account both the prospective runoff originating above Navajo Reservoir and the available water in storage in Navajo Reservoir, for a sharing of the available water in the following manner: The prospective runoff shall be apportioned between the contractors diverting above and those diverting at or below Navajo Reservoir in the proportion that the total normal diversion requirement of each group bears to the total of all normal diversion requirements. In the case of contractors diverting above Navajo Reservoir, each such contract shall provide for a sharing of the runoff apportioned to said group in the same proportion as the normal diversion requirement under said contract bears to the total normal diversion requirements of all such contracts that have been made hereunder: Provided, That for any year in which the foregoing sharing procedure either would apportion to any contractor diverting above Navajo Reservoir an amount in excess of the runoff anticipated to be physically available at the point of his diversion, or would result in no water being available to one or more such contractors, the runoff apportioned to said group shall be reapportioned as near as may be among the contractors diverting above Navajo Reservoir in the proportion that the normal diversion requirements of each bears to the total normal diversion requirements of the group. In the case of contractors diverting from or below Navajo Reservoir, each such contract shall provide for a sharing of the remaining runoff together with the available storage in the same proportion as the normal diversion requirement under said contract bears to the total normal diversion requirements under all such contracts that have been made hereunder. The Secretary shall not enter into contracts beyond a total amount of water that, in his judgment, in the event of shortage will result in a reasonable amount being available for the diversion requirements for the Navajo Indian irrigation project and the initial stage of the San Juan-Chama project as specified in sections 2 and 6 of this Act.’’
It is our understanding that it is not intended that the water-sharing principle be applicable in the case of the existing Fruitland, Hogback, Cudai, and Cambridge Indian irrigation projects, nor to extensions of their irrigated acreage totaling approximately 11,000 acres. The total acreage involved, including that now irrigated, is approximately 26,000 acres. This intent could be reflected by the addition to section 7 of a new subsection (c) reading substantially as follows:
‘‘(c) This section shall not be applicable to the water requirements of the existing Fruitland, Hogback, Cudai, and Cambridge Indian irrigation projects, nor to the water required in connection with the extension of the irrigated acreages of the Fruitland and Hogback Indian irrigation projects in a total amount of approximately 11,000 acres.’’
Section 3 of the bill relates to the inclusion within the Navajo Indian irrigation project of lands which are not now Indian lands, which lands would be held by the United States in trust for the Indians. It has been the general policy of the Department to require Indian tribes acquiring lands, particularly lands outside the reservation boundaries, to take those lands in fee. The principal reasons for this policy are to prevent disrupting the tax base in local communities and to give the Indian groups an opportunity to manage limited acreages of land free of any control or limitations by the Federal Government. In this case, however, it appears that officials of the State of New Mexico and of the tribe have reached an understanding that the nonreservation lands which would be included within the project, including privately owned lands which would have to be acquired, should have a trust status, and be nontaxable.
Section 5 would authorize the Secretary to transfer to the Navajo Tribe the care, operation and maintenance of the proposed Navajo Indian irrigation project, together with title to movable property necessary for the operation and maintenance of such works. There is now pending before the Congress H. R. 11896 which, if enacted, would authorize the transfer to the Navajo Tribe title to all irrigation project works constructed by the United States within the reservation. In the event of the enactment of any legislation such as H. R. 11896, it might thereupon be necessary at some future time to consider an appropriate amendment of section 5 of S. 3648, depending, of course, upon the form of any general legislation on this point.
When your committee shall act upon S. 3648, it may wish to consider modifying certain of its provisions for clarification, elimination of technical difficulties, and general workability of its provisions substantially along the following lines:
The Bureau of the Budget has advised that, while there would be no objection to the submission of such report as we deem appropriate, it would recomment against the enactment of S. 3648 at this time since it would have no basis, until the review of the planning report has been completed, to assess the merits of the projects or the need for additional amendments of the bill.