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Navajos and Hopis Concerned Over Water Deal With Feds

Via AZ Central.com

The house where Dixie Ellis lives with her mother is perched on a mesa above town. It is a steep hike up the hill from Lake Powell, the second-largest man-made reservoir on the continent, and an easier walk up Arizona 98 from the Navajo Generating Station, one of the country’s largest coal-fired power plants.

“Tourists ask me about it,” Ellis said, nodding at the three 774-foot smokestacks that rise into the northern sky from the power plant less than 3 miles down the hill. “I tell them we don’t even have running water or electricity. They can’t believe it.”

Ellis’ mother, 96-year-old Sally Young, signed over part of her grazing lease to allow construction of the plant more than 40 years ago, one of hundreds of families that gave up land for a promise of jobs and a stronger economy. Her family said she was also promised water and power, promises that apparently never made it on paper.

“Other people are benefiting from it, but we’re not getting anything,” said Pearl Begay, Ellis’ daughter. “No lights, no running water, just the smokestacks.”

The power plant has emerged as an issue in a proposed water agreement between the federal government and the Navajo and Hopi tribes. The government has offered the Navajos an extra allotment of water if they will ensure that leases are renewed for the plant site and for a mine near Kayenta that supplies coal to generate electricity.

Read more: AZCentral.com