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H.R. 644: Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act of 2019

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jan 17, 2019.

Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act of 2019

This bill ratifies and modifies the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Agreement negotiated between the Navajo Nation, the United States, and Utah. The agreement gives the Navajo Nation the right to use water from sources located within Utah and adjacent to or encompassed within the boundaries of the Navajo Reservation resulting in depletions not to exceed a specified amount annually.

The Navajo water rights shall be held in trust by the United States for the use and benefit of Navajo Nation and shall not be subject to forfeiture or abandonment.

The Navajo Nation shall have authority to allocate, distribute, and lease the water rights for any use on or off its reservation in accordance with the agreement.

The Department of the Interior shall establish and manage the Navajo Utah Settlement Trust Fund, with amounts available for withdrawal by the Navajo Nation for planning, designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and replacing Navajo water development projects.

The bill also specifies waivers and releases that must be executed in order for the settlement to be binding and effective.