Gila Diversion Planning Workshop Rehashes Old Alternatives

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For Immediate Release

June 23, 2016

Gila Diversion Planning Workshop Rehashes Old Alternatives

Interstate Stream Commission continues to waste money on infeasible water supply ideas


Albuquerque, NM –The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) and its engineering contractor, AECOM, presented to the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity (NM CAP Entity) and the public on Tuesday several Gila River diversion ideas for consideration under the Arizona Water Settlements Act.  The NM CAP Entity must decide on a proposed action by July 11 in order to meet its schedule under the National Environmental Policy Act.  AECOM presented several Gila River diversion ideas to supposedly meet agricultural needs in the Cliff-Gila Valley, Virden and Redrock Valley, and municipal needs in Deming.

“The ISC continues its unrealistic quest to capture the most amount of water possible, no matter the cost,” stated Gila Conservation Coalition executive director Allyson Siwik. “It’s shocking that the ISC has spent another $500,000 on consultants to rehash ideas that have already been looked at and have been rejected.”

Gila diversion ideas included in AECOM’s presentation were on-farm water storage ponds and water storage in the sandy river bottom, both deemed technically infeasible by the Bureau of Reclamation Appraisal Report (July 2014), as well as cost-prohibitive diversion and storage with construction costs much higher than available funding.

Moreover, the NM CAP Entity continues to be misled by the ISC. Diversion project costs presented by the ISC contractor were low balled by presenting only direct construction cost estimates and omitting any estimates of operations and maintenance costs like expensive pumping which often double project costs.  Similarly, AECOM did not address the high likelihood that project water may be unavailable in many years given infrequency of legally divertible river flows.

“The ISC has been wasting time for more than a decade and has spent millions of dollars trying to suck water out of the Gila River.  It’s amazing that they continue to push unrealistic ideas that are unaffordable, technically infeasible, and ecologically harmful,” said Todd Schulke, senior staffer with the Center for Biological Diversity.