Protect the Gila River
Bureau of Reclamation
Flowing out of America’s first Wilderness Area, the wild Gila and San Francisco rivers are under threat from harmful water diversion and storage projects. As the last free-flowing river in New Mexico, the Gila and its tributary the San Francisco is home to seven threatened or endangered species and are the centerpiece of the region's outdoor recreation and tourism economy. Federal legislation was recently introduced to designate 450 miles of the Gila and San Francisco rivers and their tributaries as wild and scenic.
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Gila River diversion project (NM Unit) proposed by the NM Central Arizona Project (CAP) Entity. As joint leads for the NEPA process the BOR and the ISC are taking public comment on four diversion/storage action alternatives and the no action alternative.
Tell the Bureau of Reclamation to select the No Action Alternative
It's well past time to stop wasting NM Unit Funds on the failed Gila diversion planning process and instead direct funding to priority community water projects to meet the needs of everyone in southwest New Mexico.
The proposed New Mexico Unit alternatives do not pass even minimum standards of viability:
- Financially infeasible - Project water under all alternatives is too expensive for farmers to buy. Even assuming public subsidy for project construction costs, the cost of water per acre-foot likely exceeds farmers' willingness to pay.
- Not economically viable - Costs to the economy as a whole for all diversion alternatives are greater than the benefits. None of the action alternatives “maximize public benefits" as required by the Water Resources Development Act, and therefore the no action alternative should be selected.
- Unfair - The NM Unit Fund should be used to implement priority water projects in southwest New Mexico benefiting 60,000 people, rather than to subsidize water for a handful of irrigators.
- Harmful to threatened and endangered species and riparian habitat along the Gila and San Francisco rivers - NM Unit diversion alternatives will decrease stream flow and cause disturbance that will adversely affect native vegetation and degrade riparian habitat, impacting threatened and endangered birds, native fish and snakes.
- Impact historic and cultural properties and human remains - All alternatives will impact many historic and cultural sites, such as small pueblos, pithouse villages, and rock art sites, as well as disturb human remains significant to Tribes.
Advocate for the No Action Alternative
Immediate and future water needs in southwest New Mexico can be met cost-effectively by implementing non-diversion alternatives. We can spend the NM Unit Fund (more than $70 million) on priority community water projects that will create a secure water supply for 60,000 people far into the future without building a costly Gila diversion that requires massive ongoing public subsidy to benefit a very few and damages significant cultural resources and ecologically critical riparian habitat.
Comments are due June 8, 2020.
Thank you for taking action to protect the wild Gila River!
More information: GCC Fact Sheet, NM Unit EIS Website
Bureau of Reclamation
From: [Your Name]
I am submitting to you today my comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the NM Unit of the Central Arizona Project.
I am very concerned that the proposed action and alternatives fail to meet even minimum standards of viability, as well as harm riparian habitat, threatened and endangered species, and disturb cultural and historic sites.
I oppose all of the action alternatives and encourage you to select the No Action Alternative.
Specifically, the action alternatives are all financially infeasible as project water is too expensive for farmers to buy.
Because the NM Unit action alternatives all do not maximize public benefits, BOR must select the no action alternative as required by the Water Resources Development Act.
I am alarmed by the unfairness of the NM Unit alternatives. The NM Unit Fund should be used to implement priority water projects in southwest New Mexico benefiting 60,000 people, rather than to subsidize water for a handful of irrigators.
I am very concerned that the NM Unit alternatives will all cause significant harm to riparian habitat along the Gila and San Francisco rivers and threatened and endangered species, as well as impact historic and cultural sites and disturb human remains.
For these reasons, I strongly recommend that you select the No Action Alternative so that the NM Unit Fund can be used to address the current and long-term water supply needs of everyone in southwest New Mexico.
Thank you for consideration of my comments.