Gila river for Sierra Club article on Gila River diversion project

Originating in America’s first designated wilderness area, New Mexico’s Gila River is a biological gem. Its forests boast one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in the country, including rare yellow-billed cuckoos, and its waters sustain the endangered loach minnow and Gila trout. The Gila is also a mainstay for the area’s recreation economy.

After three previous failed attempts to dam and divert this iconic Southwestern river, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and local New Mexico entity are planning to divert the Gila — a billion-dollar boondoggle that could destroy the river as we know it.

The New Mexico Unit Agreement must be signed by the local New Mexico entity and Secretary Jewell by Nov. 23.

We need your help now to urge Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to save the Gila River once and for all.

  • The diversion project is technically infeasible and will yield little to no water in many years.
  • The Gila diversion is expected to be hugely expensive, with construction costs estimated by the Bureau of Reclamation at $800 million to $1 billion and a continuing cost for operation, maintenance, and CAP exchange water in excess of $10 million each year, forever.
  • The federal funds available will pay for only a small fraction of the construction cost of the New Mexico unit, leaving a likely gap of $900-plus million for taxpayers and water users to cover.
  • The Gila River is an ecological treasure that deserves long-term protection.
  • The project is unnecessary because the area’s long-term water needs can be met by other proven means — through conservation, groundwater management, water-recycling and watershed restoration.

Click here to ask Secretary Jewell to protect the Gila River.

Tell Secretary Jewell: Don’t sign off on costly Gila River diversion!