Navajo water project working to secure its path

FELICIA FONSECA Associated Press Published:

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- A massive federal water project is scheduled to begin construction this year, eventually bringing relief to arid tribal lands in the Southwest where thousands of residents still don't have running water.

But concerns about destruction of vegetation, access to roads and the animosity some residents of the Navajo Nation feel about historical federal land grabs can complicate the process.

Consent from those who have permits to graze livestock in the path of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is being sought.

But tribal President Ben Shelly says he'll use eminent domain to clear the way if needed.

The $1 billion pipeline will carry San Juan River water over its 280-mile course.

The project that also will serve the city of Gallup, N.M., has been fast tracked by the Obama administration.