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Emergency declared in Navajo water crisis

Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM

PHOENIX, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Water shortages, caused by water pipes damaged by cold temperatures, have provoked emergency orders by Arizona's governor and the Navajo Nation's president.

Gov. Jan Brewer issued a declaration of emergency, and a release of $200,000 in state aid, Tuesday in response to unusually cold temperatures in January that froze and damaged water pipes affecting the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation and several northeastern Arizona counties, the newspaper Navajo-Hopi Observer reported.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed a similar order two weeks ago, and estimated the cost to repair its water pipeline system at $2.8 million, KNXV-TV, Phoenix, reported Thursday.

About 2,000 families were without running water, the Farmington (N.M.) Daily Times reported Thursday, noting the freeze damaged a water system of concrete and clay pipes that date back to the 1950s.

Crews from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority and the Salt River project have responded to 940 residential water outages, and have 730 more to inspect, the Daily Times said.

"In all my years I've never seen anything like this," said Erny Zah, spokesman for the Navajo Nation's president and vice president. "People are starting to get an idea of how serious this is."

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