Originating in America’s first designated wilderness area — a protection inspired by Aldo Leopold — New Mexico’s Gila River is a mainstay for the region’s recreation economy and a biological gem whose riparian forests boast one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in the country. But it’s now at risk from a billion-dollar diversion project. After three failed attempts to dam and divert this wild river, developers where hoping Interior Secretary Sally Jewell would allow the project to go through in November.
CAVU made this piece in 10 days and once it was released through the efforts of all our great partners, both Secretary Jewel and Governor Susana Martinez received over 10,000 emails, texts, and calls on this matter. Secretary Jewel delayed the project pending further analysis. We will continue to fight to protect the Gila River and will keep you updated during the full federal review of the Gila Diversion Project.
How You Can Help Save the Gila River
- 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.