New Mexico Moves to Divert the Gila River
Recently, I traveled to southwestern New Mexico to tour the area around one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers for 2014, the Gila.
I saw lush valleys with songbirds and cottonwoods, stood in a flowing stream that tumbles out of our nation’s first wilderness area, marveled in the Wild West history that signifies the cultural relevance of this place, and watched trout dart under branches and into deep, cool pools.
But even though parts of the Gila seem serene, there are real threats to one of the Southwest’s most loved streams. As we highlighted with the Most Endangered River listing in April, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission [ISC] is considering a plan to dam and divert the Gila where it flows out of the mountains and heads towards Arizona.
Now its decision time: the ISC will literally seal the fate of the Gila this month, at a hearing in Albuquerque on August 26. A new article in the Santa Fe Reporter outlines the hazards, both financial and ecological, that could result if outdated and expensive water projects are built on a river that is already clinging to life.
Misguided, ecologically devastating, and enormously expensive for New Mexico taxpayers, the proposals being floated on the Gila are simply flat wrong. There are better alternatives.
Take action today to encourage Governor Martinez and the ISC to dismiss these projects. New Mexico should instead focus on cost effective conservation measures and water-smart efficiency projects that are good for the taxpayer, good for sustaining New Mexico’s agricultural heritage, and good for the communities and wildlife that depend on a healthy Gila River.