The community operates on a ramshackle water collection system that was severely damaged after fires and floods in 2006.
Crews, funded in part by the Farm Service Administration, US Department of Agriculture, Office of Natural Resources, and San Juan County, plan to rebuild the water collection system at the base of Navajo Mountain. An April 22 meeting in Page, Arizona is set to coordinate the project.
The project is set to begin soon after the completion of the school year in late May. The work will require the closure of the collection system during the construction period.
San Juan County Administrator Rick Bailey reported at the April 7 meeting of the San Juan County Commission that drinking water will need to be hauled to the community during the construction period. Water may need to be hauled even longer if the pipeline linking the spring collection and the water collection tanks needs to be rebuilt, as some suspect.
Trucks hauled drinking water for several months in 2006 after the fire and floods damaged the system.
Bailey reports that the county had to swallow $135,000 in water hauling expenditures after the last episode. Apparently, the Navajo Division of Water Resources had agreed to reimburse the county for the expenses, but has failed to do so.
The federal funding project requires a 25 percent match by San Juan County, either in cash or in-kind donations. Bailey said that hauling water and providing equipment will meet the 25 percent match.
Bailey stated that the county has approximately $450,000 in Utah Revitalization funds that could be used for the project.
An even longer-term solution to water problems at the isolated community is the construction of a pipeline from Inscription House, AZ. That project is tentatively scheduled to take place in 2009.
Commissioners support local participation in the projects. “We do not need more bandaids,” said Commissioner Bruce Adams. “Let’s go in and fix the problem.”