KVOA: Pascua Yaqui Reservation receives grant for new water pipeline

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Tucson is the first community in Arizona to benefit from the U.S. Water Resource Development Act.

The federal government will grant the reservation $900,000 for a new water pipeline.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has been rooted in this land for generations. "My children have played in these fields," said Pascua Yaqui Chairman Peter Yucupicio.

"The biggest hurdle was (the) water. How do we keep these fields green? And how do you keep this whole community intact?"

Future generations now face a problem. In 15 years, the Tribe fears they will run out of water.

"They told us there is no water, there is nothing here for you. So, why did we accept the land?" Yucupicio continued, "We accepted it because our forefathers had walked through these lands. This is where they wanted to make and create a place for us to be saved, to be healthy, and to be able to practice our faith."

A new government program could help the Pascua Yaqui Tribe with money for a new pipeline. The act funds rural communities to develop new sources of water.

Right now, the tribe gets a limited amount of drinkable water from the City of Tucson. With more people, that means less water for laundry, toilets, and gardening.

"This is a big issue across the state of Arizona, where we are using drinking water," Rep. Greg Stanton said. "For purposes where we don't need to be using drinking water and it's not a good use of drinking water."

The $1.2 million pipeline will bring the tribe water from the central Arizona project. The pipe will be installed 6 ft. underground and span off to nearby parks, homes, and even the wellness center.

"This just didn't happen overnight. This was probably over two years in the making, but, in terms of boots on the ground time, we are probably looking at a four month timeline," said contract engineer Rick Solis.

But the water source is expected to last for decades.

"The elders used to tell us a saying and it says into Mambo Talaq in Yaki means now it's in your hands, you're supposed to take care of it, nurture it, and develop it, and leave it for the next generation," Yucupicio said.