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Navajo get funds from water, energy bill

WASHINGTON - The Navajo Nation has been granted more than half the money going to Arizona from a water and energy bill recently passed by Congress.

The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, H.R. 2754, contains $7.65 million for Arizona projects. Of that amount, $4 million will benefit the Navajo Nation, which is based in Arizona, as well as Utah and New Mexico.

The bill has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and was sent on Nov. 21 to President George W. Bush for his signature. The omnibus bill totals $27.3 billion for fiscal year 2004 appropriations for water and energy projects, $1.19 billion more than the fiscal year 2003 bill.

According to Rep. Rick Renzi of Arizona's rural First Congressional District, $3 million will fund the Navajo Electrification Demonstration Project. The district, which is bigger than the state of Illinois, contains the Arizona section of the Navajo Nation, as well as the White Mountain Apache and San Carlos Apache reservations.

"The residents of homes in remote areas of the Navajo Nation will benefit greatly from this project to bring electivity into their lives," said Rep. Renzi, a Republican. "By either extending power lines from pole to house or providing renewable power technologies, such as fuel cells, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal systems, and wind technologies to rural communities, this project will bring increased safety to the Navajo Nation."

The other Navajo funding was for $1 million for drought assistance. The Navajo Nation last year declared a drought emergency.

"The Teec Nos Pos, Fort Definace, Tuba City and Cameron public water supply systems serve more than 40 percent of the households on the Navajo Nation. This funding will ensure that these water systems receive adequate water resources for irrigation and drinking purposes," Congressman Renzi said.

The other $3.65 million in Arizona funding went to an environmental assessment of Tonto Creek, Gila County to determine a bridge site, and $3.5 million for the construction phase of the Rio de Flag flood control project in Flagstaff, a Navajo border town.