Local News

Havasupai Lawsuit Puts Stilo Project in Danger

December 22, 2016

 A lawsuit filed by the Havasupai tribe could deal a crushing blow to the controversial Stilo development. The tribe wants to prevent any new wells that could impact its aquifers. The defendants span from Tusayan to Williams.

The lawsuit claims water withdrawn from wells in this area negatively impact the tribe. The litigation states in part:
The Defendants’ groundwater withdrawals will reduce the flow of Havasu Springs and the other springs that originate from the R-aquifer, on a gallon-for-gallon basis. Nearly the entire outflow of the R-aquifer occurs on the Havasupai Reservation, in Havasu Canyon, and in Grand Canyon National Park. The Defendants’ groundwater withdrawals from the R-aquifer thus directly infringe the Tribe’s water rights, and are causing harm and threaten to cause increased harm in the future to the Tribe’s right and ability to utilize the Havasupai Waters, and to the traditional, cultural, natural, ecological and scenic values that attach to those waters, harm that is by its nature irreparable.

The impact of the lawsuit could prevent any new wells in the area. That means any new development in the area would need to have water come from a source other than groundwater. While Stilo has said its immediate plans do not include groundwater, it has yet to identify a source for its controversial development that includes thousands of new homes and three million square feet of commercial space.

The Town of Tusayan is not commenting on the litigation because it is not a party to the lawsuit.

The President of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club applauds the litigation. Sandy Bahr said, "This lawsuit is the latest in the Havasupai Tribe's good work to safeguard the Grand Canyon and its waters. Whether it is a uranium mine, a big resort development, or any number of other threats, the Havasupai are there to defend the Canyon and to ensure that the waters in the seeps and springs that sustain Grand Canyon continue to flow."

The lawsuit follows years of concern expressed by the Havasupai tribe that the Stilo project would dry up the seeps and springs that feed its water supply. The complete text of the lawsuit is available here.