County Declares Drought Emergency for Navajo Mountain 
by Ann Widmann, Observer Editor

As a result of the current drought, the residents of the northeastern Arizona Navajo Mountain Chapter of the Navajo Nation no longer get enough water from their seeps and springs to supply their needs.

On June 18 at a regular meeting, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors approved a declaration of drought emergency on the Navajo Nation, a necessary step in seeking state and federal aid in emergency situations.

Now it’s up to state officials to determine to what extent they can assist Navajo Mountain in terms of funds, physical resources and technical assistance.

Jim Driscoll, county emergency services coordinator, traveled to the remote Navajo community June 14 to assess the water situation. He said the state can supply up to 75 percent of the cost in emergency situations and estimated it would cost $600 per day for 4,000-gallon truck to haul in water.

“The people there consume more than 12,000 gallons a day, but the two springs are only producing 6,000,” he said. “The closet potable water is 47 miles away.”

Driscoll said he tracked down a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation water truck in Tuba City to haul water to Navajo Mountain but stressed the state will only provide drinking water. Emergency funding simply does not cover water for livestock.

As of Friday, a water truck began hauling two truckloads a day to Navajo Mountain, according to Deb Hill, county supervisor for District 4, which includes the community. She said the county is picking up the $3,500 weekly tab for the water hauler and truck while Navajo Mountain Chapter is covering the gas needed and the Navajo Tribe Utility Authority is supplying water costs.

It is up to the governor to determine how much of these costs will be reimbursed with state funds.

“The available resources only aid human consumption, but there is a large concern about livestock and feed for animals,” Hill said. “A lot of elderly folks and families rely on livestock for food.

“This is the scariest thing I’ve seen.”

Hill mentioned she had seen dead cattle in Cameron starved from lack of feed near water tanks containing water.

“This is an ongoing need federal and state funds won’t meet,” she said. “There are other players out there — nonprofit groups, members of the private sector, even the city [of Flagstaff].”

Hill referred to a meeting set for June 24 in the county boardroom to bring together those who might have the resources to help.

“The purpose of the meeting is to figure out a stop-gap system if another community anywhere in the county declares a water emergency,” she said. “There simply is no quick money available. Funding takes weeks or months [to secure].”

Hill said she hopes the meeting will identify water resources available for purchase, a strategy to get funding and manpower from private entities for future drought emergencies and a plan for obtaining water for livestock.

She mentioned that Joe Donaldson, Flagstaff mayor, has discussed the possibility of using reclaimed water for livestock.

“We will be looking into the cost, how to get it, store and how much we need,” Hill said.

She stressed there is no county funding available to cover other communities facing drought emergencies.

“We are coming to the end of a very difficult fiscal year,” Hill said.

Driscoll urged a concerted effort to pull through the enduring drought.

“All of the entities — state, county, city, federal or tribal — need to collaborate,” Driscoll said. “This is something that will not be fixed today or next week.”



Reprinted as a historic reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.