The Gila River is New Mexico’s last free-flowing river. Originating in America’s first wilderness, the Gila is rich in biological diversity and cultural history. The Gila’s natural flows support outstanding examples of southwest riparian forest, the highest concentrations of breeding birds in America including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, a nearly intact native fish community including the endangered loach minnow and spike dace, and the threatened Gila trout. The Gila provides significant economic value to the region through outdoor recreation and wilderness experience.
In 2004, Congress passed the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) that authorized diversion of the Gila River if New Mexico agreed to buy water from Arizona to replace what we take out of the river. The AWSA provided $66 million for community water projects to meet local water needs and a perverse incentive of up to $62 million more if New Mexico elects to divert the Gila River. Proposed Gila River diversion projects may cost up to $300 million, leaving NM taxpayers responsible for the balance–$200 million or more.
A Gila River diversion project is unnecessary, expensive and will harm the Gila River. An overwhelming majority of New Mexicans believe we should use our current water supplies more wisely and protect the Gila River for people, wildlife and future generations. Southwestern New Mexico’s future water needs can be met cost-effectively through non-diversion alternatives, such as municipal and agricultural conservation, sustainable groundwater management, effluent reuse and watershed restoration.
Tell Governor Susana Martinez to support cost effective, non-diversion alternatives to meet southwest New Mexico’s future water needs. Sign the petition at http://protectthegila.org/