Yaqui Indians have delivered more than 9,000 signatures to Mexico's environmental enforcement office demanding a halt to construction of an aqueduct in the northern state of Sonora they say will leave them without water.

The petition was launched on the Web site Change.org by members of the Yaqui's head town, Vicam.

A representative of that Indian community, Mario Luna, delivered the letters to the environmental enforcement chief, Francisco Alejandro Moreno Merino; the office's delegate in Sonora, Jorge Carlos Flores Monge; and the federal government's environment and natural resources secretary, Juan Jose Guerra Abud, the village of Vicam said in a statement.

On Feb. 23, 2011, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat, or Semarnat, authorized construction of the Independence Aqueduct without respecting indigenous peoples' right to be consulted about projects affecting their resources, a court in Sonora ruled four months ago.

On Aug. 7, the Mexican Supreme Court ordered the Sonora government to halt construction of the aqueduct if it is found to cause "irreparable damage" to the Yaqui community.

In the wake of that ruling, Semarnat revoked the environmental permit that had been issued and announced that consultations would be held with the local community by the end of September or early October.

But the Sonora government has continued to build the aqueduct.

The goal of the project is to supply water to the booming manufacturing hub of Hermosillo, Sonora's capital, by taking it from the Yaqui River, which "is drying up" as a result, the petition says.

The Yaqui tribe consists of some 45,000 people spread across eight small towns and 56 hamlets, none of whom currently has running water, according to the letter. EFE