Cutter Lateral Reach 21 Water Treatment Plant & Conveyance Pipelines (NM)


Located in Bloomfield, New Mexico, near the “Four Corners” region consisting of the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico, the project is a 3.5-million-gallons-per-day (mgd) greenfield water treatment plant with capacity for upgrade to 5.4 mgd at final build-out. Other features include 21,400 linear feet (lf) of raw and finished water pipeline conveyance and a regulation tank.

The project will divert 37,376 acre-feet of water annually from the San Juan River Basin and convey it via approximately 280 miles of pipeline, several pumping plants, and two water treatment plants (of which Cutter Reach 21 WTP is the first of the two water treatment plants to come online). The project was authorized for construction by the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11) on March 30, 2009, as a major component of the Navajo Nation San Juan River Basin Water Rights Settlement in New Mexico.

As one of the 14 infrastructure projects identified by the Obama administration to be expedited through the permitting and environmental review process, Reclamation is working with federal, non-federal, and tribal entities to facilitate construction activities as soon as possible.

These areas currently rely on a rapidly depleting groundwater supply that is of poor quality and inadequate to meet the current and future demands of more than 43 Navajo chapters, the city of Gallup, and the Teepee Junction area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Groundwater levels for the city of Gallup have dropped approximately 200 feet over the past 10 years and over 40% of Navajo Nation households rely on hauling water to meet their daily needs. Inadequate water supply also impacts the ability of the Jicarilla Apache people to live and work outside the reservation town of Dulce.

No one needs to be reminded that water is essential for life. Water in the Four Corners region is in short supply for many communities and available water is often of poor quality. In order to mitigate water contamination and scarcity, the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project was conceived, and a significant portion of the project, the Cutter Lateral, is near completion in Summer 2020. Multiple state and federal agencies are involved with this massive project. The Cutter Lateral will soon deliver potable water to communities in San Juan, Sandoval, and Rio Arriba Counties.


The water treatment process is designed to remove inorganic, organic, and microbial contaminants in accordance with federal (the federal Safe Drinking Water Act) regulations for the protection of public health. Water conveyed from Navajo Reservoir to Cutter Reservoir near Bloomfield, New Mexico, will be pumped through a series of two pumping plants to the treatment plant, where it will be initially treated by clarification and filtration. This treatment removes small particles and microorganisms before it is disinfected and distributed to the receiving communities by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. The small particles and microorganisms that are removed, referred to as “solids,” will be trucked to a nearby landfill to be disposed of properly. The new water treatment plant includes a process operation building, a control room, administrative offices, a laboratory, and maintenance facilities. The state-of-the-art treatment plant has been designed to treat 3.5 mgd initially (Phase 1) and can be expanded to 5.4 mgd to meet future demands (Phase 2). Water from the project will be used for municipal, industrial, and domestic purposes.


The $1.5 billion Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project (NGWSP) will provide a reliable long-term municipal and industrial water supply to the eastern section of the Navajo Nation, southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the city of Gallup, New Mexico. These areas currently rely on rapidly depleting groundwater of poor quality that is inadequate to meet current and future demands of more than 43 Navajo chapters including Fort Defiance and Window Rock in Arizona, the city of Gallup, New Mexico, and the Teepee Junction area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. It is anticipated that between 100-150 jobs were created. This allowed for Navajo Nation to participate in both craft and non-craft worker jobs.

The NGWSP is designed to provide a long-term sustainable water supply to meet the future population needs of approximately 250,000 people in these communities by the year 2040 through the annual delivery of 37,764 acre-feet of water from the San Juan Basin. The project’s eastern branch will divert approximately 4,645 acre-feet of water annually with no return flow to the San Juan River.

The project has been delivered with over 350,000 man-hours with no lost time since project notice to proceed (NTP) in Oct 2018. The Cutter Lateral Reach 21 WTP is a critical component of the Eastern Navajo Nation for reliable safe, potable drinking water. This is the first and only design-build project (to date) delivered to this client for the NGWSP Capital Improvements Program. The NGWSP has well over 20 bid-build contracts. Through a fixed-price design-build (FPDB) delivery, Jacobs was able to fast-track schedule and provide cost savings to the owner with a single integrated source accountability so upstream and downstream separate contracts could tie in with the necessary infrastructure that the owner could coordinate with Jacobs as their design-builder. This FPDB delivery method offered the best competitive and local market procurement while also allowing small business and Indian preference craft and non-craft workers to participate. Archer Western Construction, our civil, structural, mechanical, and architectural subcontracting partner, provided cost certainty and controlled their schedule using local Indian preference workers.