January 29, 2018
For immediate release
SANTA FE – This morning, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation hand-delivered a strong message to Governor Susana Martinez and New Mexico legislators on the House Agriculture and Senate Conservation Committees: New Mexico sportsmen and women overwhelmingly oppose a Gila River Diversion!
More than 1,200 sportsmen and women from New Mexico signed a letter asking House and Senate legislators to stand against the proposed Gila diversion, a costly and impractical project that has already cost New Mexico taxpayers more than $13 million, and could cause irreversible damage to the Gila River ecosystem.
For several years, water experts, engineers, and even the former director of the state’s Interstate Stream Commission (ISC), have testified that the project would not yield the amount of water projected by the ISC, that it would be too costly to taxpayers, and that other water projects should be strongly and seriously considered to meet Southwest New Mexico’s future water needs. Since the ISC and New Mexico Central Arizona Project (NMCAP) entity decided to pursue a Gila Diversion using federal taxpayer money, they have spent more than $13 million in flawed engineering studies, multiple diversion projects that have since been scrapped, and consulting and attorney’s fees that have all fell flat, all seemingly under the public radar.
The Gila is not only one of the most revered landscapes to hunters and anglers in New Mexico, but also across the West, and thousands of sportsmen and women believe that every acre foot of water in this river should be conserved for the use and enjoyment of future generations. Conserving the Gila River as it is today will also ensure that farmers, ranchers, irrigators, and sportsmen and women are able to pass down their businesses and traditions to future generations, a mutual benefit to all Gila River uses. NMWF strongly encourages using the remainder AWSA money to fund other badly needed water conservation projects in Deming and the mining district in Grant County, which would directly positively impact all of the residents of the area, not just a handful of irrigators in the upper Gila Valley.
“With more than 1,200 signatures from sportsmen and women across New Mexico, we hope that our legislators will finally hear loud and clear that the citizenry does not want this costly and ineffective diversion,” said NMWF Southern New Mexico Outreach Coordinator Gabe Vasquez. “We depend on the ecological integrity of this river for recreation, as do the neighboring communities of the Gila River, and we’re tired of taxpayer money being wasted in this state for the benefit of a few. Let’s keep our Gila River wild, our outdoor economy booming, and let’s instead fund common-sense water conservation projects that benefit all Southwest New Mexico residents. We’re counting on our legislators to make the right decision as these discussions come before key committees this week.”
Read the letter delivered to legislators here.