We now have an answer to the question of where the money will come from for a billion dollar diversion to take water from the Gila River, a Colorado River tributary in southwestern New Mexico.
Laura Paskus has the scoop on this week’s decision by the project’s governing body to abandon the Cadillac versions of the project that were under study and stick with a far more modest project:
This week the state agency in charge of building a controversial diversion on the Gila River has reined in earlier – and costlier – plans for capturing the river’s water. The agency’s decision might mean good news for project critics who feared its environmental consequences and high cost. But many questions remain around how much money the state has to build the project, the location and scale of the diversion, and who would buy the water once it’s built.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity, or NMCAPE, directed its engineering contractor to continue studying only those projects that would cost $80-100 million to build. That’s how much funding New Mexico anticipates receiving from the federal government to develop water from the Gila and perhaps its tributary, the San Francisco River.
With that vote, the NMCAPE officially rejected earlier large-scale plans, including one with an estimated billion dollar price tag. By tamping down the budget, the board also acknowledged that the project will be smaller – and not one capable of delivering all 14,000 acre feet of water the state has rights to under federal law.