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PRESS RELEASE: NEW TV AD TELLS HOW TOM UDALL HELPED RURAL NEW MEXICO FAMILY GET RUNNING WATER

Udall overcame Senate gridlock to pass legislation creating a major pipeline project, bringing water to a community that had hauled water for generations

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – In its latest TV ad, the Udall campaign tells the story of how Tom Udall helped get clean running water for a New Mexico family, one of hundreds on and near the Navajo Nation who will no longer have to haul water to their homes because Udall was able to secure funding for a major water pipeline project.

While fighting for New Mexico’s bases and national labs may get him more attention, the ad says, it’s just as important to Udall to help families and support small communities across the state. The new ad features a family on the Navajo Nation who had had to haul water eight miles to get it to their sick and elderly parents near Whitehorse Lake, N.M. The family now has clean, running water as a result of legislation Udall introduced and passed, despite obstruction in the U.S. Senate.

“If you lived in Whitehorse Lake, New Mexico, it was an eight-mile drive to get fresh water. And because Andrew lost his leg, and Sarah her sight to diabetes, their children brought the water to them,” says a narrator in the ad, which runs 30 seconds and began airing today. “But now they just come by to say hello, because Tom Udall got the community running water.”

As Senator for New Mexico, Udall has been a strong defender of funding for the labs and bases. Just as important, as a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee, Udall also has worked to get water and other critical infrastructure projects built to help strengthen economic opportunities for communities across New Mexico.

Udall, along with former Senator Jeff Bingaman, passed legislation approving the San Juan River Water Settlement and then secured funding for the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project, a major component of the settlement, which provides certainty to the Navajo Nation and other New Mexico residents who rely on San Juan Basin water. Andrew and Sarah Jim now are among the 550 residents of Whitehorse Lake, north of Grants, N.M., who have access to running water as a result of Udall’s work to fund the Cutter Lateral, a segment of the Navajo Gallup project. A reliable water supply will keep families healthy, support economic development and attract young people back to the community.

“Whether it’s defending our national labs and bases or bringing water to a rural community like Whitehorse Lake, Tom Udall is working hard in the U.S. Senate to do what’s right for families across New Mexico,” said Campaign Manager Daniel Sena. “Tom is working across party lines to overcome gridlock, pass legislation and secure resources that are critical to strengthening New Mexico’s economy.”

Watch the new television ad HERE.

Transcript of “BRINGING WATER” running 30 seconds: “If you lived in Whitehorse Lake, New Mexico, it was an eight-mile drive to get fresh water. And because Andrew lost his leg, and Sarah her sight to diabetes, their children brought the water to them. But now they just come by to say hello, because Tom Udall got the community running water. Protecting our bases and national labs might get Tom more attention, but getting a water for a family means just as much. I’m Tom Udall and I approved this message.”

 

BACKGROUND DOCUMENTATION

Parts Of The Navajo Nation Have To Truck In Water

Whitehorse Lake Resident: “Water Is Gold Out Here… It’s Our Life.” In an article on water service coming to Whitehorse Lake, the Albuquerque Journal reported: “Chee Smith Jr, chapter president at Whitehorse Lake on the Navajo Nation, testing his new water spigot behind his house. “Smith flipped the handle to demonstrate the water’s flow, but turned it off quickly. Water here, even when it comes in a pipe rather than being hauled in the bed of a pickup, is not a thing to waste. ‘Water is gold out here,’ Smith explained. ‘It’s our life.’” [Albuquerque Journal, 1/5/2014]

Albuquerque Journal: “Lack Of Indoor Plumbing And The Need To Haul Water By Pickup Truck Are Common On The Navajo Reservation.” In an article on water service coming to Whitehorse Lake, the Albuquerque Journal reported: “Lack of indoor plumbing and the need to haul water by pickup truck are common on the Navajo Reservation. But even by Navajo standards, Whitehorse Lake and the other communities along the nation’s eastern fringe are dry. The area averages less than 9 inches of precipitation a year.” [Albuquerque Journal, 1/5/2014]

 

Tom Udall Introduced Legislation To Authorize Construction Of The Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project

Udall And Bingaman Introduced Legislation To Authorize Funding For Construction Of The Navajo Gallup Pipeline. On July 24, 2007, then-Representative Tom Udall introduced H.R. 1970, the Northwestern New Mexico Rural Water Projects Act in the House of Representatives. This bill would have given federal government approval for the San Juan River Settlement Agreement between the Navajo Nation and the State of New Mexico and would have provided for the development of a rural water system to serve the needs of parts of the Navajo Nation. H.R. 1970 was selected later for inclusion in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2008. [110th Congress, H.R. 1970]

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley: “Without This Project, Navajo Families Will Continue To Haul Water And Economic Growth Will Be Discouraged.” After the introduction of legislation to fund the Navajo Gallup Pipeline, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley issued a press release supporting the pipeline. “The project is critical to providing a secure, permanent homeland for the Navajo people,” President Shirley said. “Without this project, Navajo families will continue to haul water and economic growth will be discouraged. With this project, most Navajo families will finally have potable drinking water in their homes in the Eastern Navajo Agency. The Navajo Nation, and I as President, strongly support the San Juan River (PNM) Alternative.” [Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Press Release, 6/7/2007]

Udall Said Water Legislation Would Help 70,000 Navajos Who Must Haul Water For Residential Use. When introducing H.R. 1970, the Northwestern New Mexico Rural Water Projects Act in the House of Representatives, Tom Udall said, “In exchange for relinquishing some of their claims to water from the San Juan River basin, the Navajo Nation will benefit from water development projects which include the Navajo-Gallup project and the Navajo Nation Municipal pipeline. Incredibly, even now in 21st-century America, more than 70,000 Navajos must still haul water daily for residential use. These water projects will go a long way toward rectifying that grievous situation.” [Congressional Record page E805, 4/19/2007]

 

Udall’s Bill Struggled Through Congressional Gridlock, But Eventually Passed

Udall-Bingaman Bill To Authorize The Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project Was Wrapped Into An Omnibus Lands Bill That Faced Obstruction In The Senate. On June 26, 2008, Senator Jeff Bingaman introduced S. 3213, the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2008. Subtitle B of Title X of the omnibus bill included Udall and Bingaman’s Northwestern New Mexico Rural Water Projects legislation. Congressional Quarterly later reported in November of 2008; “The Senate will not take up an omnibus public lands bill this year, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday, because there isn’t enough time to overcome procedural obstacles from an opponent of the legislation.” [110th Congress S.3213; CQ Today, 11/17/2008]

Omnibus Lands Bill Was Reintroduced In The 111th Congress. At the start of the 111th Congress in 2009, Senator Bingaman reintroduced the Omnibus Public Land Management Act that stalled at the end of the last Congress. The omnibus bill still included the Udall-Bingaman bill for the Navajo pipeline. Tom Udall supported the legislation as it passed the Senate. When the bill headed to the House of Representatives, Congressional Quarterly reported: “The measure, which lumped together more than 150 separate bills, would create new wilderness areas nationwide and add other new protections for federal lands. It passed the Senate in January, 73-21, after it was held up for months by objections from Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn.” [111th Congress S.22; Senate Vote #3, 1/15/2009; CQ Today, 3/10/2009]

Omnibus Lands Bill Was Amended Into H.R. 146 And Passed Both Chambers With Udall’s Navajo Pipeline Provision Intact. In March of 2009, The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 was stalled in a procedural vote in the House of Representatives, stemming from a fight over gun rights. The bill was amended onto H.R. 146 before being sent back through both chambers for approval with an added provision clarifying that the bill would not restrict access to hunting, fishing, or trapping activities. The final version still included the Northwestern New Mexico Rural Water Projects Act introduced by Udall and Bingaman in the previous Congress. [111th Congress S.22; 111th Congress S.AMDT. 684 to H.R. 146; CQ Today, 3/12/2009; The Associated Press & Local Wire, 3/19/09]

Final Omnibus Bill Authorized $870 Million For Navajo Gallup Water Project. After passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported: “The omnibus bill also includes a measure approving a 2005 agreement between New Mexico and the Navajo Nation over water rights in the San Juan River Basin. The tribe will get rights to 600,000 acre-feet of water a year under the settlement. The measure also provides $870 million to pay for the agreement and build a water pipeline to Gallup. Some of the cost will be shared between the state and Gallup, though the bulk will come from the federal government.” [Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/26/2009]

 

Udall Stayed Committed To Funding Construction Of The Project

Tom Udall Cosponsored A Bill To Protect Funding For The Completion Of Water Projects. On April 11, 2013, Tom Udall joined a group of 10 Senators in introducing S. 715, the Authorized Rural Water Projects Completion Act. This bill would establish a special fund in the Treasury to complete the construction of water projects already authorized by Congress. The fund would receive automatic transfers for each fiscal year from 2014 through 2029. [113th Congress, S.715]

Tom Udall Secured $3.7 Million In Earmarks For The Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project. In fiscal year 2009 and 2010, before earmarks were banned in Congress, Tom Udall secured $3.7 million in earmarked appropriations for the Department of the Interior to be spent on the Navajo Gallup Water Supply. [Office of Management and Budget Earmarks Database]

Tom Udall Continues To Use His Position As An Appropriator To Secure Funding For The Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project. Tom Udall has been using his role on the Senate Appropriations committee to fight for crucial New Mexico water projects. In fiscal year 2014, Udall helped secure $60.497 million for the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project. [H.R. 3547, 113th Congress]

 

Thanks To Udall’s Support For Funding This Project, Parts Of The Navajo Nation Are Already Getting Needed Water

The Eastern Navajo Water Pipeline, Part Of The Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project Now Brings Water To Whitehorse Lake. In an article on water service coming to Whitehorse Lake, the Albuquerque Journal reported: “The 13-mile Phase 4 of the Eastern Navajo Water Pipeline Project brings water south from Pueblo Pintado to Whitehorse Lake. For now, the $3 million extension connects to a modest groundwater supply system at Ojo Encino, a Navajo community near Cuba. Eventually, plans call for an expanded network of pipes to connect to the north Cutter Reservoir and a more permanently reliable supply of water from the San Juan River via the $73 million Cutter Lateral project. The Cutter Lateral, in turn, is part of the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project, intended to bring water to some 100,000 people across the Navajo Nation in western New Mexico who currently lack access to a clean and reliable water supply.” [Albuquerque Journal, 1/5/2014]

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