Maybe a second diversion to get New Mexico’s share of Lower Basin Colorado River water?

With critics saying there’s no way New Mexico can get 14,000 acre feet of water from the Gila River, as promised in the Arizona Water Settlements Act, Avelino Maestas reports that state officials are talking about a second diversion, on the San Francisco:

The Gila River may not be able to supply the 14,000 acre feet of water guaranteed to New Mexico under the Arizona Water Settlements Act, and a second diversion project will likely been needed on the San Francisco River to make up the difference….

“The Act allows New Mexico 14,000 acre feet of annual use,” Roepke said. “It’s not possible to get that, I believe — without causing severe environmental problems — entirely off the Gila River. So, if New Mexico is going to enjoy the full 14,000 acre feet, yes, you’re probably going to need, at some point, a unit on the San Francisco River.”


  1. What is the legal difference between ‘promised’ and ‘allowed?’ ‘Promised’ sounds like ‘You will get it no matter what.’ ‘Allowed’ sounds like ‘You will get it if we feel like giving it to you.’

  2. i’ve not looked at the projected costs, but it is likely that the amount of money spent will mean those AF will come at a very high price, especially if they have to do another project. for much less they could get that same amount from conservation and recycling projects built on to existing infrastructure.

    i hope that what remains of the wild Gila river is left intact.

  3. Contrast Roepke’s “severe environmental damage” statement at the ISC’s meeting last week with this quote from Roepke’s statement currently posted on Deming’s web site:

    “The ecology would also benefit. Two endangered species of fish—the
    spikedace and loach minnow—remain in the river where it is wet. A
    steady flow of water would likely increase their habitat and their

    ISC’s ecologic assessments reports, which cost over $1.5 million in public funds paid to ISC’s stable of consultants, say the diversion will provide an ecological benefit. The ISC’s policy for assessing the ecologic impacts of the proposed diversion of the wild Gila River says it will use “best available science.”

    Best Available Science is merely the ISC’s overarching falsehood.

    “Allows” means NM can have the water if nature provides it, the highly restrictive legal conditions for diversion are met, and NM can get the feds to sign off on the environmental impacts. Years have elapsed historically between consecutive snowmelt runoff or flood events that provide water New Mexico has a federal legal right to divert. (New Mexico can only divert water when all downstream water rights have enough!) There are no workable sites for reservoirs to store the rare diversions to last through the dry times, including augmentation of river flows during dry times. No way the ISC’s proposed Gila River diversion can “keep the river wet” as a result of the diversion.

    Costs? Based on Bureau of Reclamation cost estimates and a financing scheme proposed by an investment bank, the water would cost users in Deming more than $8000 per acre foot per year, and that figure assumes a huge and unrealistic state subsidy.

    How did the ISC come to be without integrity? Why the ISC’s waste of public money on captive consultants’ worthless reports produced under the ISC’s secretly and illegally authorized public contracts? Who are the real beneficiaries (besides the consultants)?

    Disclosure: I was Director of the ISC from 1997 through 2002. I sued the ISC in October for violation of the NM Open Meetings Act. Trial is scheduled for August.

  4. That’s brilliant! Instead of only one costly and unsustainable diversion on the Gila River, now ISC (i.e., Roepke) is talking about second costly, unsustainable diversion on the San Francisco. New Mexico water planning’s finest hour.

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