New legislation introduced to Congress would allow the Mescalero Apache Nation to lease its water rights to nearby communities, which could create a revenue stream for the south central New Mexico reservation, reported the Albuquerque Journal.
“This will provide the tribe with a valuable economic opportunity and the ability to provide water to people in the area,” the tribe’s President Mark Chino said in a press release.
If passed, the Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act would permit lease or transfer of water rights for up to 99 years.
The tribe’s water rights were granted by a 1993 New Mexico court decision.
“We are familiar with that situation,” Ruidoso Mayor Ray Alborn said Monday, reported the Albuquerque Journal. “We’ve had conversations with Pearce’s aide about it. As a matter of fact, I have felt all along that the tribe is a neighbor of ours, and we needed to have a working relationship with them in a lot of ways. … We certainly are interested in working with them any way we can, but I emphasize, it has to be a win-win for both parties. That’s the only way it makes sense. President (Mark) Chino also has to work with his Tribal Council.”