SALT LAKE CITY — Two members of Utah’s congressional delegation are urging Democratic House leaders to act on a bill that would bring clean drinking water to the Navajo Nation in Utah.
Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others concerning the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act.
“As you are aware, Indian Country, and especially the Navajo Nation, has been devastated by COVID-19 in large part because of the lack of safe drinking water for essential preventative measures, such as hand-washing,” the letter reads.
Nearly 40% of the Navajo population lacks running water and adequate sanitation in their homes. The bill would provide about $220 million for drinking water projects on the reservation.
“It is unthinkable that right here in my home state, families on the Navajo Reservation are forced to do without this crucial resource,” McAdams said.
The legislation resulted from collaboration between the state, Navajo Nation and the federal government.
“I’m glad to stand with Sen. Romney in urging for action on this important legislation,” McAdams said.
Romney said the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Navajo Nation in Utah, and the shortage of running water in nearly half of homes is contributing to the spread.
“People deserve to have running water, and with each day our legislation is held up by the House Democratic leadership, Utah Navajos continue to experience hardship from lack and shortage of running water,” he said.
The Senate passed the legislation earlier this year as part of a package of tribal water bills.