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ISC Approves Billion Dollar Gila River Diversion, Opponents Call

On Governor Martinez to Overturn Decision

November 24, 2014

Albuquerque, NM – Today the Interstate Stream Commission decided to move forward with a Gila River diversion project under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA). This decision to notify the Secretary of the Interior that New Mexico intends to develop Gila River water ends a ten-year planning process to decide how to utilize federal funding and water from the Gila River under the AWSA.

“Even though the ISC obviously already had its mind made up, we are very disappointed with today’s decision. A billion dollar Gila River diversion project is a bad idea for New Mexico taxpayers and water users – it’s infeasible, it’s too expensive, the project will provide little to no water, and will harm the wildlife of the Gila River” said Allyson Siwik, Executive Director of the Gila Conservation Coalition.

“This issue is now in Governor Martinez’s hands. She can to say “no” to a Gila River diversion and instead fully fund non-diversion alternatives that can immediately meet southwest New Mexico’s future water needs at a fraction of the cost of a billion dollar diversion project,” added Siwik.

LISTEN to podcast of Earth Matters Program on the ISC vote. Hear the ISC discussion and vote on the Gila River diversion project.



Purchase Guitar Raffle Tickets & Wild Gila: Forever Free


CD coverWild Gila: Forever Free is the title of the new CD/DVD compilation of original Gila River music and films produced by GCC to celebrate New Mexico’s last wild river.

Purchase the Wild Gila: Forever Free CD/DVD online here, for $20.00 per album for GCC members, and $guitar photo 125.00 for non-members. All proceeds from the sales of the CD/DVD set will benefit the Gila Conservation Coalition’s work to protect the Gila River.


Purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win a handmade guitar by Don Musser and Dan Swanson. Tickets are $50 each and only 100 tickets will be sold. Stop by the GRIP/GCC office at 305A North Cooper St. or purchase online.



Despite PubAldoStudentsRallylic Outcry Interstate Stream Commission Staff Recommend
Billion Dollar Boondoggle Diversion of the Gila River

November 14, 2014

Silver City, NM – At the final meeting of the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) before it makes a decision on how best to use federal funds for Gila River projects, ISC staff recommended that commissioners pursue a harmful and expensive diversion of the Gila.

Staff recommended that less than 10% of the available funds be used for non-diversion alternatives proposed by local communities, including municipal conservation, directing the large bulk of the available funds for a diversion. New Mexico taxpayers would be forced to pay the bulk of the diversion’s cost, which goes well beyond the funds available through the Arizona Water Settlement Act (AWSA). A final decision was scheduled for November, but a first circuit court has ordered the ISC to withhold its decision because of a legal complaint under the Open Meetings Act.

“This irresponsible recommendation in favor of using 90% of available funds for a billion-dollar Gila diversion ignores the input of scientists, economists and citizens. Diversion puts New Mexico taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars, when the science shows that the promised water is just not there. The staff is throwing bones to local communities with minuscule amounts for municipal water projects, while hiding how much we’ll be forced to spend on diversion, which will be much less effective at meeting our water needs. In a state with a billion-dollar backlog in water needs, as well as huge gaps in funding for education, health care and poverty reduction, this recommendation is actually insulting,” said Allyson Siwik, director of Gila Conservation Coalition. MORE


This is your last chance to comment to the ISC on its
Gila River diversion plans!

Interstate Stream Commission Public Meeting
Friday, November 14, 9 am
Grant County Administration Building
1400 Highway 180 East, Silver City, NM

We need you now more than ever to show your support for the Gila River.

The Interstate Stream Commission will be in Silver City Friday, November 14 at 9 am for a public meeting on the Arizona Water Settlements Act. Agenda

THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO COMMENT ON THE GILA RIVER DIVERSION PROJECT before the ISC makes its decision on how to move forward under the Arizona Water Settlements Act.
We expect that a sign-up sheet to make public comment will be available at the beginning of the meeting.

It’s critical that we have as many people present at the meeting to show support for protecting the Gila River. Remember to wear your favorite Gila River-related t-shirt! Come early at 8:30 am and hold a sign expressing your support for the Gila.

BACKGROUND: The governor-appointed New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission is considering whether to use federal funding from the Arizona Water Settlements Act to divert an average of 14,000 acre feet of water from the Gila River.

New Mexico must notify the Department of the Interior by the end of the year if it intends to construct a harmful diversion project on New Mexico’s last wild river. Diversion would be tremendously expensive for New Mexico taxpayers (construction, OM&R and exchange costs estimated at $1.1 billion), would yield little to no water according to the latest analyses from former ISC director Norm Gaume, and would negatively impact the hydrology and ecology of the Gila River according to the recently released Gila River Flow Needs Assessment.

Non-diversion alternatives, such as municipal and agricultural conservation, sustainable water management and infrastructure improvements, effluent reuse and watershed restoration, can meet southwest New Mexico’s long-term water needs at a fraction of the cost of a billion dollar diversion project.

Please join us to show your support for New Mexico’s last free-flowing river!



Tell Governor Susana Martinez “NO” to Harmful Billion Dollar Diversion Project!

The time is now for the future of the Gila River, the last major undammed river in New Mexico. At the end of 2014, the State of New Mexico must notify the Secretary of the Interior if it will move forward with a diversion project under the Arizona Water Settlements Act.It is difficult to imagine how the wild Gila here in New Mexico could be reduced to an industrialized zone with diversions, canals, access roads, reservoirs and fences, like it is downstream in Arizona.

The Gila River diversion project doesn’t make sense. It is infeasible – it is too expensive, with costs over $1B, will yield little water after evaporation and leaky reservoirs, and it will negatively impact the Gila’s fragile ecology, including six threatened and endangered species.

The answer is simple. Meet southwest New Mexico’s long-term water needs by using AWSA funding to implement local community water projects that will save the taxpayer money and protect the Gila River for future generations.



gcc logo


”We were not incorporated, had no officers, and used my own post office box,” M.H. “Dutch” Salmon recalls. “But the pro-dam people began to pay more attention to us. In fact, I think we had a pretty significant effect.”

During a recent interview, the Silver City conservationist took time out to describe the early impact of the Gila Conservation Coalition, which Salmon helped organize in 1984 as a means of helping to protect the free flow of the Gila and San Francisco Rivers. A partnership of conservation groups promoting conservation of the Upper Gila River Basin and surrounding lands, the GCC was instrumental in stopping the Hooker and Conner Dam proposals put forward by government agencies during the 1980s. READ MORE



We hope you had fun, were inspired and got your feet wet at this year’s Gila River Festival. We sure did! Hurricane Odile brought us some much needed rain, but didn’t prevent us from celebrating the Gila.

Thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers, presenters, field trip leaders and sponsors. We couldn’t do it without you!

We’ll see you next year for the 11th annual Gila River Festival September 17 – 20, 2015.




September 18, 2014

Albuquerque, NM – The Arizona Water Settlement Act of 2004 (AWSA) authorizes a federal water development project named the New Mexico Unit of the Central Arizona Project (NM Unit) proposing to divert water from the wild Gila River, store the water in reservoirs, and pump water to SW New Mexico municipalities.

The recent Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) July 2014 Appraisal Report to the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) analyzed a series of Gila diversion configurations. Unfortunately it did not combine diversion, storage, and delivery components into a comprehensive system. This is critical to allow direct comparison to other ISC diversion proposals analyzed by Bohannon-Huston Inc. (BHI) that are designed to maximize use of AWSA water. Completion of these combined calculations shows that a comprehensive diversion and water delivery system for Deming could cost more than $1.1 Billion. READ COMPLETE MEMO



Report Shows Gila Diversion At Risk for Fatal Flaws

Silver City, NM – 6/24/14– The Gila Conservation Coalition sent a letter on Monday to Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) chairman, Jim Dunlap, outlining how commissioners were misled by staff about conclusions of an independent engineering review by RJH Consultants (RJH) of the Gila River diversion Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) prepared by Bohannan Huston (BHI). The conclusions were contradicted by the FY15 Gila Diversion work plan prepared by staff and approved by ISC Commissioners at their meeting in June. The work plan claimed that RJH confirmed that the BHI study was “adequate for conceptual level project planning,” but RJH found that “several project components were not adequately addressed in the PER and it is currently unknown if these components represent significant technical challenges or potential fatal flaws….for storage reservoirs and dams, project water availability, and Gila River sediment.” There are currently no plans approved by the ISC to evaluate issues identified by RJH as high priority and critical to determining if the Gila River diversion project is fatally flawed from a technical or financial perspective. Though over $1 million was approved by the ISC for the first half of FY2015, it is unclear what the ISC will do with this funding and if answers to key questions raised by RJH will be addressed. READ MORE