Interstate Stream Commission and New Mexico CAP Entity release Gila River diversion options
Diversion proponents still lack viable proposal
Silver City, NM – In its ongoing efforts to design and construct a New Mexico Unit under the Arizona Water Settlements Act, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) and the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity released a one-page list of Gila River diversion options to be assessed under the National Environmental Policy Act. The list is an attachment to the NM CAP Entity’s April 5 public meeting agenda. None of the options involve diversion facilities within the wild Upper Gila Box canyon, potentially meaning the ISC and NM CAP Entity no longer intend to locate their diversion in this wild area immediately downstream of the Gila Wilderness boundary.
“The ISC and diversion proponents have been working for more than ten years and spent millions of dollars to try to develop a viable Gila River diversion project and they continue to be unsuccessful. Here we are at the 11th hour and the best they can come up with is another laundry list of unworkable and unaffordable ideas,” stated Allyson Siwik, Gila Conservation Coalition executive director.
“It’s clear that the ISC and CAP Entity have made little progress in developing an operable configuration for the NM Unit. Their options are both technically flawed and financially infeasible,” stated Norm Gaume, former director of the ISC and strong critic of the Gila River diversion project. “It’s impossible or financially infeasible to develop AWSA water with any remaining option. Pumping AWSA water into an off-channel storage reservoir is simply not affordable. The AWSA water rarely is available, but must be taken from the river at high rates and stored for later use whenever it is available, requiring very expensive, but rarely used pumping facilities.”
“The Gila River is New Mexico’s last wild river and home to seven threatened and endangered species. The diversion project ideas on the table will put these species at risk. We urge the Department of Interior to continue its efforts to implement a rigorous analysis of these options and ensure the scientific integrity of the process, including the use of peer reviewed data and information in its decision making,” said Todd Schulke, senior staffer with the Center for Biological Diversity.