Navajo president signs off on water settlement

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) November 2010
Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. has approved an agreement that quantifies the tribe's water rights in the lower Colorado River basin.

Tribal lawmakers voted in favor of the settlement earlier this month.

It gives the tribe 31,000 acre-feet of water a year from the basin, any unclaimed flows from the Little Colorado River, and nearly unlimited access to two aquifers beneath the reservation.

Critics had lobbied Shirley to veto the settlement, saying the tribe shouldn't waive future claims to the water and should demand more.

Shirley spokesman George Hardeen said Thursday that the president has confidence in those who negotiated the settlement on behalf of the tribe.

The settlement still needs approval from the Hopi Tribe, the state of Arizona and Congress.