STOP Big Canyon Dam Project that threatens sacred areas for local Indigenous communities!

STOP Big Canyon Dam Project that threatens sacred areas for local Indigenous communities!

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Save The Confluence started this petition to United States Secretary of Interior Debra Haaland and

Join us in asking Pumped Hydro Storage, LLC, to cancel the application for a permit to build the Big Canyon pumped hydro storage project above the Little Colorado River. The Little Colorado River and its confluence with the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon have been of deep cultural significance to Native peoples since time immemorial. This proposed dam project is harmful to Native communities because of the billions of gallons of local groundwater it would require and its threats to cultural areas. 

In early 2020, Pumped Hydro Storage LLC submitted an application for a preliminary permit to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a pumped hydro storage dam on a tributary to the Little Colorado River (LCR) on Navajo Nation land. If approved, the project would be used to generate electricity for distant, off-reservation cities with no benefit for Native communities. 

The Confluence of the Colorado River and LCR is culturally significant to the Diné, Hopi, Zuni, and Hualapai and other Native communities, so development near the Confluence and LCR would be inappropriate. The Diné have expressed their disapproval of the project alongside tribes such as the Hopi, Zuni, and Hualapai. Their disapproval stems from the fact that the development area is near many sacred cultural areas for the local Indigenous tribes. 

This project is detrimental to Native communities because of the billions of gallons of local groundwater it would require. The local Native communities who live nearby the proposed project site would be negatively impacted because they depend on groundwater for their livelihoods. The Navajo Nation, despite its borders lying along the Colorado River, has been affected by drought and water scarcity issues. This epidemic of water scarcity among the Diné has been ongoing for decades and the pandemic has worsened this issue. A third of Diné citizens lack access to running water in their homes and this dam would have a negative impact if aquifers were to be depleted. 

This rings true for the Hopi as well because Hopi tribal borders are completely surrounded by federally designated Navajo Nation lands. The local tribes’ dependence on drinking water from aquifers is why the project should be canceled. The company is trying to disguise its capitalist agenda by claiming its proposed dam would be carbon neutral despite it being detrimental to local Indigenous drinking water sources, cultural sites, and native fish and wildlife. 

If the project is approved, the company would drill and extract about 14.3 billion gallons of groundwater in an arid region in the midst of a megadrought. This groundwater would be used to fill four reservoirs for storage. Storing water in these reservoirs would waste clean drinking water from these aquifers. Evaporation in hot summers would be an outstanding issue for these developers, who estimate extracting an additional 3.2 to 4.8 billion gallons of groundwater to make up losses to evaporation. 

Photo (c) EcoFlight

 

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