NPCA submitted the following position to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife ahead of a hearing scheduled for June 26, 2019.
NPCA appreciates the work of Congressman O’Halleran and the Arizona delegation to ensure water rights claims for the Hualapai Tribe. We understand the scarcity of water in this area of the country and do not disagree with the intent of the bill. We do, however, have concerns about the pipeline project outlined in the bill. NPCA opposes the bill because the authorized pipeline construction skirts full NEPA compliance by not considering the project as a major federal action. NPCA believes constructing a water pipeline at this length, and through a remote section of the geologic Grand Canyon, is indeed a major federal project and should require full NEPA analysis, including an Environmental Impact Statement. Additionally, the proposed pipeline route is placed in an active canyon that frequently floods. Previous experience at Grand Canyon National Park has shown us that pipelines are vulnerable to damage in this environment.
Finally, it is also possible that the water extracted for this pipeline will be way beyond the predicted uses of the Hualapai Tribe. H.R. 2459 authorizes the project to convey not less than 3,414 acre-feet of water per year; yet, over six million visitors at Grand Canyon National Park use just over 600 acre-feet of water per year. NPCA would support increased use of the abundant groundwater already available for development on the reservation; a solution that could provide the necessary water while avoiding the potential delay and impacts of pipeline construction.
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Former Arizona Senior Program Manager