Arizona senators talk water rights with tribes

Tuba City, Arizona (AP) April 2012

Arizona’s two U.S. senators have outlined terms of a proposed water rights settlement they’re prepared to push through Congress to Hopi and Navajo tribe leaders.

Sen. Jon Kyl introduced legislation earlier this year that would settle the tribes’ claims to the Little Colorado River system. They would get groundwater delivery projects in exchange.

Kyl and fellow Republican John McCain met informally with leaders of the two tribes in Tuba City.

Navajo president Ben Shelly’s spokesman says the senators told Navajo leaders they would not push the bill unless it had tribal support. Spokesman Erny Zah says the next step is meetings around the reservation, then a Navajo Council vote.

The tribes must sign off on the settlement, along with 30 other entities, Congress and the president.