Originating in America's first designated wilderness area, New Mexico's Gila River is a biological gem. Its riparian forests boast one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in the country -- including rare yellow-billed cuckoos -- and its waters sustain loach minnow, spike dace and Gila trout. The Gila is also a mainstay for the area's recreation economy.
But New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez will soon decide whether to OK a billion-dollar boondoggle that could destroy this river as we know it. The project is unnecessary because the area's water needs can be met by other proven means -- through conservation, groundwater management, water recycling and watershed restoration.
Take action today -- urge Gov. Martinez to support cost-effective, non-diversion alternatives to protect the Gila and secure New Mexico's water future.
I am writing to ask you to do everything in your power to help protect New Mexico's last free-flowing river from harmful water diversions. The long-term prognosis for water in New Mexico is grim, with more water shortages predicted. And so we must develop better strategies that use this precious resource more efficiently, while preserving the health of the rivers so critical to our state's quality of life, recreation, economy and wildlife.
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As you know, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission is currently considering a large diversion project authorized by the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) to take Gila River water and pump it over the Continental Divide to farms and urban areas, such as Deming and Las Cruces.
But this diversion would be absurdly expensive -- costing more than $1 billion and with taxpayers picking up the vast majority of the tab not covered by the AWSA federal subsidy. Using tax dollars to destroy a river is not in the public interest. A diversion would also harm the Gila's endangered fish and birds and the outdoor recreation economy that depends on the river's health.
The good news is an expensive Gila River diversion is unnecessary. Southwest New Mexico's water needs can be met cost effectively by using water more wisely through such measures as municipal and agricultural conservation, sustainable groundwater management, water recycling, and watershed restoration.
Please say no to this billion-dollar boondoggle and help keep the Gila's water where it belongs -- in the river.