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New Mexico Court of Appeals uphold Navajo water settlement

April 4, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico Court of Appeals decision upholds a major legal settlement that allocates water rights from the state’s largest river to the Navajo Nation.

An opinion issued Tuesday by three judges rejects a challenge to the settlement by more than 20 community water and irrigation districts in the San Juan River basin. The water districts argued that the resources from the San Juan River aren’t needed for troubled Navajo irrigation systems.

The appeals court said Indian tribes are not required to prove immediate beneficial use of water, and ordered sanctions against an attorney for the water districts for attempting to discredit the work of a district court judge on the case.

Congress approved the Navajo water rights settlement in 2009. State approval followed in 2013.

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