The Grand Canyon Escalade project is intended to provide a platform for economic opportunity in the Former Bennett Freeze (FBF) area. Not only will the development attract over one-million visitors per year providing 3,500 jobs directly and indirectly, but it will bring very needed infrastructure. Water is the most beneficial and important resource to bring to an area deprived of development for over 40 years.
According to a recent article about the Navajo Nation water crisis, 40% of the 173,000 residents of Navajo Nation lack access to clean, safe drinking water. It affects every aspect of daily life, including physical and mental health, education, and economic viability. As a result of the heavy mining that took place in the area during the nuclear arms race following World War II, much of the water found in Navajo Nation is heavily contaminated with uranium or other radioactive particles. (Tata & Howard – Water Environment Solutions)
In an area badly affected by the Bennett Freeze, a water project is essential moving forward. Last month the Navajo Nation approved $1.6 million to renovate homes, $9.7 million for power line extensions, and $180 million for wastewater treatment projects. Although Vice-President Nez called for waterlines to be extended as soon as possible, It is unclear if any of the funding will bring clean, safe drinking water to the area.
In September, President Begaye and Vice-President Nez met with residents of the Bodaway/Gap Chapter during a community meeting. They had asked, “Where are the plans?” Nez said they had not seen any comprehensive plan for the area, which is not entirely true. The plan for the Grand Canyon Escalade project is a comprehensive plan that considers the need for various types of infrastructure, the cost and feasibility. Instead of considering the plan, the Navajo Nation is sitting and waiting for something else to fall in their lap.