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50 Years Ago: For the first time, NTUA restricts water use

For the first time in its history, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority is restricting water usage in the Window Rock area. C. Mac Eddy, director of the tribal enterprise, said his office has contacted the Navajo Police, which has agreed to help monitor the use of area residents who water their lawns.

Until further notice, the watering of lawns will only be allowed from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Anyone caught watering their lawn outside those times will be cited and could pay a fine of up to $100.

Mac Eddy said the situation with the water supply has been getting worse for the past three years as more people move into the area and rainfall has been below normal. But the main problem is a technical one – NTUA does not have the capacity to distribute as much water as the community needs during the summer when water usage is at its highest. He stressed that if these restrictions are not enough to alleviate the situation more drastic measures may have to be taken, including turning off the water to the community completely during certain hours of the day.

Window Rock isn’t the only community on the reservation that has been having water problems, he said. Three years ago, the situation in Shiprock became so bad that NTUA had to stop delivery completely for several days and water had to be hauled in to meet the needs of the community. For a couple of days, drinking water was delivered in milk cartons. “The situation has been getting worse every year,” Mac Eddy said. “Last year we barely squeaked by.”

When asked why NTUA hasn’t taken the steps to increase its ability to deliver water to the community, Mac Eddy said it has tried but the efforts have been frustrated by bureaucratic red tape.

Two years ago, NTUA submitted an application to the Economic Development Administration for a loan that would pay 80 percent of the cost to expand its distribution system in Wimdow Rock.

But the Bureau of Indian Affairs threw up roadblocks until a new area director took over a few months ago. If the application had been approved in a timely manner, the expansion would have been completed by now, he said. What needs to be done, he said, is to drill more water wells at Hunter’s Point and spend $2 million for a pipeline to bring the water to Window Rock. That would add another 2-million-gallon capacity to the system.

The good news is that the application has been approved and work on the pipeline and drilling are expected to get underway by September and be completed by next March. In other news, Ned Hatathli took over this week as director of Navajo Community College, succeeding Bob Roessel, who has been head of the school for the past 18 months. Roessel will now become chancellor at the school.

Navajo Tribal Chairman Raymond Nakai, in a campaign speech delivered in Tohatchi this past weekend, said this was an important step for the tribe because NCC wouldn’t be a fully Native college until it was headed by an Indian. Hatathli is one of the most respected Navajo leaders. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Hatathli served on the Council representing Coal Mine Mesa and then became an educational administrator for the BIA. He has a degree in education from Northern Arizona University and is working on a master’s degree in higher education.

“There is no Navajo better qualified to be director of NCC,” Nakai said. The Navajo Times decided this week to get involved in a national Native issue, taking President Richard Nixon to task for failing to appoint a commissioner of Indian affairs. The position has been vacant for almost two years and without a permanent head, the department has been spinning its wheels and not addressing a number of issues facing Indian Country.

Part of the problem is political. Nixon is a Republican and he wanted a Republican in the position at a time when 95 percent of tribal leaders were members of the Democratic Party. However, as Dick Hardwick, the editor of the Times, pointed out in a front-page article that took up more than half the page, that still left a lot of possible candidates to choose from. Nixon had reportedly considered Peter MacDonald for the position but his Quaker faith could not get past the fact that MacDonald had three daughters with his secretary at a time he was married to someone else.

MacDonald said he was asked but turned it down, which wasn’t true. But if he had been asked, he probably would have turned it down since he had his sights on becoming tribal chairman. John Belindo, a Kiowa-Navajo who headed the National Congress of American Indians, also was pressuring Nixon to make a selection as soon as possible.

He pointed out that the longer he waited the harder the new commissioner’s job would be. The NCAI was pushing for the appointment of Arnold Spang, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Spang was deputy director at Navajo Community College. But he didn’t get the job.

By getting involved in the controversy, Hardwick was putting himself out on a limb since he had been loaned to the tribe to be editor and was still being paid by the BIA. He got around this by saying it was the position of the Navajo Times and not his.

 


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About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.