Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham pledges to end work on Gila diversion
Allyson Siwik, Executive Director, Gila Conservation Coalition
For the past eight years, Gila River diversion planning has moved full steam ahead under Gov. Susana Martinez. But the result of the 2018 gubernatorial election may grant New Mexico’s last wild river a second chance.
In her plan for managing and conserving the state’s water, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham states that she will “end work on the Gila River Diversion Project,” given that “there is little to show for the millions of dollars spent on staff, lawyers and studies” with only one year left to secure approval of the project under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA).
Grisham goes on to say “we need to use the [AWSA] settlement money more efficiently on other projects that could help more of southwestern New Mexico.” GCC looks forward to working with our new Governor to protect the wild Gila River.
Meanwhile, it’s been a race against time for the NM CAP Entity, the local group charged with planning for and construction of the Gila diversion project.
The Entity has been trying to get through the environmental compliance process under the National Environmental Policy Act before the December 31, 2019, Arizona Water Settlements Act deadline but still has no viable plan and little information on costs, yield of water, and who will actually use the water.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected early spring of 2019, kicking off another round of public comment.
That all said, it’s not over ’til it’s over. The Gila Conservation Coalition will keep pushing on all fronts to ensure that the wild Gila continues to run free. While we are optimistic that this long battle may be coming to an end, we will continue to need your strong support to make sure that our beloved river is protected forever!