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$20M contract awarded for first Navajo-Gallup pumping plant

02 April 2014

By Kathy Helms  |  Gallup Independent

WINDOW ROCK — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded $19.6 million to build the Tohlakai Pumping Plant, the first pumping plant for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, to be located about 8 miles north of Gallup.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement Tuesday. Moltz Constructors Inc., a small business enterprise located in Cody, Wyo., is the recipient.

“The Navajo-Gallup project will deliver clean, safe drinking water to tribal and rural communities, many of which have been hauling water over long distances for far too long,” Jewell said. “This contract is another important step in honoring U.S. commitments to Indian nations while providing lasting benefits for local economies and public health.”

Construction of the Tohlakai Pumping Plant in McKinley County is expected to take approximately 26 months to complete and provide around 140 direct and indirect jobs.

Initially, the plant will have a capacity of 2 cubic feet per second, which will be used in the short term to provide groundwater from Navajo Nation wells until the overall project construction is complete, including completion of the pipeline project.

As demand increases, additional pumps will be installed in the plant to increase the total capacity to approximately 36.5 cubic feet per second of treated surface water to Gallup, Window Rock and other Navajo communities.

Major milestone

“The current pumping plant will help many Navajo families east of Gallup get near-term groundwater for domestic use before the San Juan River water comes,” Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said. “The overall project is a priority for the Navajo Nation which will provide the necessary water supply for future economic growth for the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.”

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is the cornerstone of the historic Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement in the San Juan River Basin of New Mexico, signed by the Department of the Interior, the Navajo Nation, and the state of New Mexico in December 2010.

Project participants also include the City of Gallup, Jicarilla Apache Nation, and — in conjunction with Reclamation — the state of New Mexico, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service.

“We have been working for many years to advance the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, and this contract is a major milestone,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. said. “I will keep fighting as a member of the Appropriations Committee to see this investment finished.”

President Barack Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget requests an $80 million investment in the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, which, when completed, will have the capacity to deliver clean running water to a potential future population of approximately 250,000.

Economic growth

“Not only will this help provide much needed long-term water security and improve public health for the Navajo Nation, the city of Gallup, and the Jicarilla Apache Nation, but will also promote economic development across the region,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. said. “I will continue to work to uphold our commitments to our Native communities and ensure they have the resources they need to thrive.”

At the peak of construction, the Navajo-Gallup project will involve more than 600 jobs created at numerous project sites. Construction of the overall project began in June 2012 and is on schedule for completion in 2024.

“This latest announcement represents another important step forward in the construction of this vital project,” U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan Jr. said. “The Navajo-Gallup project is essential to ensure that the Navajo Nation and its local community chapters, the city of Gallup, and the Jicarilla Apache Nation have the water resources needed to provide for their people and encourage economic growth that will create new opportunities in these communities.”

Key components of the pumping plant contract include construction of an external facility structure, a horizontal splitcase pump and associated electrical and mechanical equipment, a 1-million-gallon water storage tank, a chlorine-feed building and a short section of pipeline to include a highway crossing.

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is one of 14 highpriority infrastructure projects identified in October 2011 by the Obama administration to be expedited through the permitting and environmental review process.


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