"How Arizona Stands Between Tribes and Their Water"

"As it negotiates water rights with tribes, Arizona goes to unique lengths to extract concessions that limit tribes’ opportunities for growth and economic development, according to a ProPublica and High Country News investigation."

"The Dilkon Medical Center, a sprawling, $128 million facility on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, was completed a year ago. With an emergency room, pharmacy and housing for more than 100 staff members, the new hospital was cause for celebration in a community that has to travel long distances for all but the most basic health care.

But there hasn’t been enough clean water to fill a large tank that stands nearby, so the hospital sits empty.

The Navajo Nation has for years been locked in contentious negotiations with the state of Arizona over water. With the tribe’s claims not yet settled, the water sources it can access are limited.

The hospital tried tapping an aquifer, but the water was too salty to use. If it could reach an agreement with the state, the tribe would have other options, perhaps even the nearby Little Colorado River. But instead, the Dilkon Medical Center’s grand opening has been postponed, and its doors remain closed."

Mark Olalde and Umar Farooq report for ProPublica and Anna V. Smith for High Country News June 14, 2023.

Source: ProPublica/HCN, 06/15/2023