Aldo Leopold High School student Ella Kirk wants you to sign her petition to Governor Martinez to tell her to protect the Gila River, New Mexico’s last free-flowing river.
New Mexicans are very concerned about water issues in the state, including drought, water supplies and the health of our rivers. The long-term prognosis is grim. Our water management efforts will continue to be challenged by predicted water shortages compelling us to develop long-term strategies that use water more efficiently, while also preserving the health of our rivers that are critical to New Mexico’s quality of life, economy, wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities.
The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, comprised of members appointed by Governor Susana Martinez, is currently considering diversion projects authorized and partially funded by the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) to take Gila River water and pump it over the Continental Divide to urban areas, such as Deming and Las Cruces for agricultural or municipal use.
A Gila River diversion is expensive with estimated costs over $300 million. Taxpayers and water users will have to pick up the tab for approximately $200 million not covered by the federal subsidy available under the AWSA. In addition, New Mexicans will have to pay millions of dollars each year to Arizona to use Gila River water and to maintain the diversion, pipeline, and storage infrastructure. During droughts, New Mexican may not be able to divert Gila River water if flows are too low.
The good news is an expensive Gila River diversion is unnecessary. Southwest New Mexico’s water needs can be met cost-effectively by using water more wisely through such measures as municipal and agricultural conservation, sustainable groundwater management, water recycling, and reducing wasted water.
Tell Governor Susana Martinez to support cost effective, non-diversion alternatives to meet southwest New Mexico’s future water needs. A Gila River diversion is expensive, will harm the health of the Gila River, its wildlife and fish, and will not solve the region’s long-term water needs.