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Arizona delegation pushes for Bill Williams River settlement

PHOENIX -- Members of the state's congressional delegation are pushing legislation aimed at settling a dispute over water rights within a west-central Arizona watershed.

U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake introduced the Bill Williams River settlement proposal earlier this week. Rep. Paul Gosar followed with similar legislation in the House.

The lawmakers said a settlement would provide certainty to both Native American and other water users in the region.

The dispute stems from concerns the Hualapai tribe had over plans by Freeport Mineral Corp. to transfer water rights to its well field along the Big Sandy River, a tributary of the Bill Williams River.

Under the settlement, Freeport would agree to cap its use from the well field and recognize the rights of the tribe and other allottees on nearby parcels.

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