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Water rights

  • Environmental groups that work to protect the Black Mesa region in northeast Arizona say that Peabody Energy has not done a sufficient job of reclaiming the now-defunct Kayenta coal mine, and shouldn’t be refunded millions of dollars in bond money. Recently, the coal company Peabody Energy applied for the release of $17.3 million, part of a larger bond held by the Office of Surface Mining, or the OSM, for parts of the Kayenta Mine that have undergone some phases of reclamation. The office is under the Department of the Interior, and is tasked with ensuring coal mines adequately restore land damaged during strip mining. The bonds were posted with the OSM by Peabody to be returned only after the mine lands had been reclaimed to certain standards. In late August, the OSM held a public meeting on the bond release at the Navajo chapter house in Forest Lake where some community members also raised concerns about the long-term impact of mining on local water resources.
  • The System Conservation Pilot Program was recently rebooted with $125 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to fight shrinking water levels in Lake Powell.
  • In the Upper Gunnison River Basin, the majority of water that melts from mountains is used for agriculture. Fields are irrigated for pasture and hay to feed cattle on nearly 100 ranches in the region. A centuries-old system determines who gets their water first and who gets it last.
  • In Utah, a fight is brewing over water rights on the Green River, the chief tributary of the Colorado River. Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Justin Higginbottom spoke with an attorney to break down the situation.
  • Thousands of Coloradans are getting ready to flock to the mountains for the long Memorial Day Weekend, and meteorologists say travelers should be vigilant about increased fire danger. And leaders from the Navajo Nation, the federal government and the state of Utah signed a water rights agreement on Friday.
  • Two recent moves aim to benefit water access for tribal communities in the Colorado River basin. And the League of Women Voters of Utah is standing by its lawsuit challenging the state’s new congressional maps.
  • A federal appeals court ruled this week against environmental groups and an Arizona tribe in their bid to keep a uranium mine south of the Grand Canyon from operating. And in Colorado, a proposed diversion to carry water out of the San Luis Valley and into Douglas County is drawing opposition from farmers, environmentalists, and politicians.
  • $13 billion is headed to tribal communities from the recently-passed federal infrastructure bill, for addressing water projects, water rights settlements, and healthcare; The federal government also announced it plans to meet directly with tribes this month to figure out how to best implement the funds.
  • Understanding the impacts of drought on everyday life isn't easy. Water access and distribution is complicated, especially in a place like the Four…
  • The conversation around water speculation has been heating up in Colorado in recent months. At the direction of state lawmakers, a work group has been meeting regularly to explore ways to strengthen the state’s anti-speculation law.