In 2004 Congress passed the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) that authorized diversion of the Gila River if New Mexico agreed to buy water from Arizona to replace what we take out of the river. The AWSA provided $66M for community water projects to meet local water needs and up to $62M more if NM elects to divert and pipe the Gila River.
It’s not our water
- The water is owned by the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) which is the senior water rights holder.
- We have to buy water from the Central Arizona Project to replace all of GRIC’s Gila water in exchange for what we use, including evaporation – up to 30% of amount diverted annually.
- Buying into this federal system gives up local control of our future water security.
Diversion/pipeline is unnecessary
- According to water studies there is a huge aquifer under the populated areas in southwest New Mexico that can supply needs far into the future.
- There are effective water supply alternatives that are cheaper, faster, and easier than a diversion and pipeline.
- Project costs are estimated at over $300M. AWSA subsidy won’t cover the full cost of a project, leaving a gap of $200M for taxpayers and water users to cover.
- Paying Arizona for the water we use and the annual operation and maintenance costs of a diversion will cost taxpayers several million dollars per year.
Diversion/Pipeline will harm the Gila River
- The ISC claims that water will be taken only during high floods but water can actually be taken out of the river at low flow levels.
- This will harm wildlife, limit recreation opportunities and potentially impact irrigators.
We have a choice
We can immediately spend the $66M on community water projects that will meet our needs far into the future or spend the entire $128M on a speculative diversion and pipeline that we will be paying off for many years & may fail due to long-term drought.
What you can do
Contact the Interstate Stream Commission and your local elected officials and tell them that they should protect the Gila, New Mexico’s last free flowing river and that New Mexico should immediately spend the $66M on cost-effective, non-diversion community water projects that can meet our water needs far into the future.