Save the Confluence is asking Phoenix developer Steve Irwin to drop his request of a federal commission to dam up a parched piece of desert to collect groundwater on the western Navajo Nation for outside interests.

In this aerial view the Little Colorado flows near the area known as Big Canyon, east of the Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo courtesy of EcoFlight.)

In a letter to Irwin, Delores Wilson-Aguirre, STC Steering Committee chairperson, referred to a 1-year-old petition, which collected more than 87,000 signatures, as evidence of widespread opposition to the environmental project near the Little Colorado River, at Big Canyon.

Irwin said Wednesday he received an e-mail copy of the letter Tuesday. He will speak with his partners and plans to respond by Friday, he said.

Irwin, owner of Pumped Hydro Storage, LLC, applied for a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2020. He proposes to use groundwater to move electricity off the Navajo Nation to larger cities. The FERC has not yet approved the permit.

Navajos are struggling to live on the same land that Irwin proposes to develop, to raise sheep and other livestock, and must haul water from miles away for survival. Yet, Irwin is threatening to take away what remaining water they can collect from earthen dams for his project.

Wilson-Aguirre, in her letter to Irwin, wrote:

“…in light of this clear and ever-increasing opposition, which I urge you to consider with the utmost sincerity, Save the Confluence requests that Pumped Hydro Storage, LLC’s application for a preliminary permit to build the Big Canyon pumped hydro storage project above the Little Colorado River be withdrawn,” Aguirre wrote.

The Navajo Nation has imposed an injunction to halt the project.

Here is a link to a copy of Wilson-Aguirre’s letter stating the reasons for her letter.

Download the letter as a PDF.

The petition also is available at Sign the petition now, via this link.