FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.—Two northeastern Arizona tribes would waive further claims to water from the Little Colorado River system in exchange for the promise of groundwater delivery projects under legislation introduced Tuesday in Congress. Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who has shepherded other key American Indian water rights settlements through Congress, had asked negotiators for the tribes and 30 other entities to lower the cost of what was once an $800 million agreement so he could introduce the legislation ahead of his planned retirement.

Tribes often trade what could be huge water claims for the promise of federal funding to deliver water to tribal communities. While Kyl's legislation identifies funding sources, the groundwater projects are largely dependent on appropriations and are expected to cost more than $315 million.

The Little Colorado River runs through the southwestern portion of the Navajo Nation. Some Navajos and Hopis strongly believe the tribes have rights to most, if not, all the water and that their governments should fight for it in court.

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