May 15, 2024—A long-awaited pipeline project to bring safe drinking water to the Navajo community of To’hajiilee got underway this morning at a groundbreaking ceremony attended by officials from the Navajo Nation, the State of New Mexico, Bernalillo County, the Federal government and the Water Authority.

The $20 million, 7.5-mile pipeline, to be funded by the Navajo Nation with support from the New Mexico Finance Authority’s Water Trust Board and the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, will carry water leased by the Navajo Nation from the Jicarilla Apache Nation. The Water Authority, which has no role in financing the project, will manage construction.

A community of about 1,600 residents west of Albuquerque, To’Hajiilee has for many years been plagued by well failures and poor water quality.  Of its six drinking water wells, five have become inoperable and the sixth cannot produce enough water to meet all of the community’s needs.

The pipeline will link the Water Authority’s distribution network to To’hajiilee’s existing water system.  Leased water, paid for by the Navajo Nation, will be treated and stored in Water Authority facilities in Albuquerque before being sent to To’Hajiilee via the new pipeline.

“We’re very glad we could be part of this solution for To’Hajiilee,” said Water Authority chair and Bernalillo County Commissioner Eric C. Olivas, who served as master of ceremonies for this morning’s groundbreaking event.

Officials expect pipeline construction to be completed in the fall of 2025. Souder Miller & Associates is designing the project, with AUI providing construction services.