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2 Jan 2024

Katie Hawkinson, The Independent

USA: Indigenous community builds solar project along Gila River to reduce carbon footprint

“Native American community breaks ground on historic clean energy project”, 12 December 2023

On Friday, the Gila River Indian Community, whose land is in what is now Arizona, made history — breaking ground on the first solar-panel-lined water canal project in the US.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to show that not just the Gila River Indian Community, but that a tribal nation can lead in water conservation and in generating green energy,” Stephen Lewis, governor of the Gila River Indian Community [said].

The leaders of this project also say it’s also a major win for Indigenous sovereignty and water rights expansion.

The Gila River Indian Community have been stewards of the Gila River for millennia.

This new project represents continued innovation and stewardship of the Gila River, Mr Lewis said.

Building the panels on top of existing infrastructure allows the community to leave precious land undisturbed while still generating green energy.

“Once the USACE finishes building it, we turn it over to the tribe and it’s theirs to own for the life of the project,” Ms Storey [USACE Tribal Liaison for the Los Angeles District] said.