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City makes first water payment to Jicarillas

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRT) -- Santa Fe Mayor Larry Delgado on Nov. 22 turned over
to the Jicarilla Apache Nation a check for $450,000 -- the first of what
could be $75 million paid by the city to the tribe over the next 50 years
to lease water.

The agreement was approved recently by the federal government -- the first
long-term lease for water between an American Indian tribe and a
municipality, Jicarilla and federal officials say.

Under the agreement, beginning in 2007, the city could begin taking up to
3,000 acre-feet a year of Jicarilla's "future-use" allocation of 6,500
acre-feet of San Juan/Chama Diversion water.

The mayor said either party can cancel the agreement at any time. Jicarilla
President Levi Pasata said the historic agreement allows his 3,560-member
tribe to benefit from its water allocation while helping out Santa Fe. He
said the Jicarillas also have short-term agreements to supply Farmington
and Aztec with water in case of a drought.

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Rick Gold, director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regional office in
Salt Lake City, said it has been "extremely valuable from my perspective to
see two neighbors working together to create this agreement where you're
sharing the resource to the advantage of both."

The $450,000 check represents a holding fee that kept the rights off the
market in 2004 and 2005. The city will pay Jicarilla $300,000 more as a
holding fee for 2006.

Beginning in 2007, the city will pay the tribe $1.5 million a year to lease
up to 3,000 acre-feet.

The lease runs through 2057 with the city agreeing to pay a fair market
value to lease the water -- currently estimated at about $500 per acre-foot
per year.

Copyright 2005, The Santa Fe New Mexican. Distributed by Knight
Ridder/Tribune Business News.