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Take Action: Tell New Mexico's Governor to STOP the Gila River Diversion!

Posted: 12/19/2014
by Nathan Fey

Silver Spring, NM - New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has only two weeks left to make a decision on the proposed Gila River Diversion.  This project will dam and drain the headwaters of the Gila River, threatening some of the most beautiful, biologically rich riparian habitat in the state, and some amazing paddling opportunities.  You can help by contacting the Governor TODAY, and signing the petition.

Last month the Governor's Interstate Stream Commission APPROVED the Gila River Diversion, a water supply scheme that could cost a billion dollars and impact the last wild river in New Mexico. Now, this decision to move forward on the project is in the hands of New Mexico Governor Martinez. We need to directly reach out to the Governor and ask her to stop this wasteful boondoggle, and support alternatives to the project that focus on water conservation and efficiency that are faster and cheaper to implement.

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 its downstream neighbor Arizona to replace what will be taken out of the river. $100 million has been made available through the AWSA, of which $66 million is available to meet local water needs in southwest New Mexico without diverting the Gila River.
New Mexico can immediately spend that $66M on community water projects that will meet it's needs far into the future without building a costly Gila diversion that local communities will be paying off for many years and may fail due to long-term drought.

Across the Southwestern US, growth and increasing water demands for cities and farms is threatening to dry-up our rivers.  Whether it's Utah's Green River, Colorado's Yampa River, or New Mexico's Gila, the last-century belief that building new dams and pipelines is the answer to a growing water supply shortage is still strong.  Alternatives to expensive new supply projects, like improving municipal and agricultural efficiency, and restoring our watersheds, can improve the resiliency of our rivers, support smart growth strategies, and sustain or enhance opportunities to paddle and play in our rivers.  New Mexico can serve as a model for other states, and should immediately spend the $66M available to it on cost-effective non-diversion community water projects that can meet water needs far into the future while keeping water in the Gila River.

(photo: Larry Rice)

You can help save the Gila!
Contact Governor Susana Martinez TODAY, and tell her that building the Gila River Diversion is a bad idea, and that the Gila River needs to be protected, for people, wildlife, recreation, and future generations.

Office of the Governor

490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Room 400

Santa Fe, NM 87501


What to say:
•    The diversion proposal will be difficult to build, if not impossible, due to its remote location.
•    It’s expensive.  Construction, Operations, Maintenance, and associated costs for the diversion project are now estimated at $1 billion (2014$). The AWSA subsidy won’t cover the full cost of a project, leaving a gap of about $900M for taxpayers and water users to cover.
•    Diversion will harm harm wildlife, limit recreation opportunities and the tourism economy, and potentially impact irrigators, which all adds to the cost of the diversion project.
•    There are effective water supply alternatives that are low cost, faster, and easier than a diversion project. 
•   Healthy rivers are important. A recent poll shows that 85% of New Mexicans believe we should use the current water supply more wisely. Water needs can be met cost-effectively through non-diversion alternatives.

You can also petition Governor Martinez to Protect the Gila, and say No to the Diversion, by signing on here:

To learn more about the AWRA, the Gila River Diversion, and our local conservation partners, visit the Gila Conservation Coalition. 


Colorado Stewardship Director
Nathan Fey
1601 Longs Peak Ave.
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-859-8601

Associated Projects

Colorado River Basin Supply Study
American Whitewater's staff and contractors are working to develop quantitative metrics that help the US Bureau of Reclamation evaluate impacts to recreational stream-flows across the Colorado basin.