Animas-La Plata Project:

Status and Legislative Framework

RCED-96-1: Published: Nov 17, 1995. Publicly Released: Nov 27, 1995.

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GAO provided information on the status of the Animas-La Plata project, focusing on the: (1) legislative framework provided for the project by the 1988 Settlement Act and the Endangered Species Act; (2) consultation between the Bureau of Reclamation and the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act; and (3) project's relationship to the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project (NIIP).

GAO found that: (1) although the Fish and Wildlife Service believed that the Animas-La Plata project would jeopardize the Colorado squawfish in the San Juan River, an alternative plan to save the squawfish was adopted in 1991 which limited construction of the project to certain facilities, restricted the amount of water that could be depleted from the Animas River, and provided for a 7-year study of the Colorado squawfish and a fish recovery program; (2) construction of the project depends on successful completion and acceptance of a supplemental environmental impact statement; (3) the construction of features beyond those permitted under the alternative plan depend on the outcome of the fish study; (4) the alternative plan should include guaranteed delivery of water from the Navajo Dam and Reservoir to provide a better habitat for the squawfish population; and (5) the Navajo Nation believes that the Bureau of Reclamation's use of water from the Navajo Dam and Reservoir threatens their right to the water in the reservoir under the NIIP.

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