New Mexico’s shrinking Gila River diversion proposal shrinks some more

The 1946 Bureau of Reclamation report projecting future development of the Colorado River – “A Natural Menace Becomes a National Resources” was its subtitle – included a picture of Hoover Dam with the caption: “World’s highest dam only partly harnesses the wild Colorado River.” The report laid out a staggeringly ambitious plan for the rest of the harnessing, which included a southeastern most dot in the upper reaches of the Gila River in New Mexico: “Hooker Reservoir”. (giant pdf of the report)

More than seven decades later, Hooker Reservoir has not yet been built, nor will it likely ever be built. But the struggle over ever-more modest diversions from the Gila in New Mexico continues. At each phase of the debate, high costs have collided with the little water to be yielded by projects. As Laura Paskus reports, we’ve had another such collision:

At a meeting in Silver City on July 2, members of the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity voted to scale back development plans on the Gila River and one of its tributaries in southwestern New Mexico.

The vote took place following completion of a preliminary draft environmental impact statement (PDEIS) about the group’s plans in the Cliff-Gila Valley, on the San Francisco River and in Virden, a town in Hidalgo County near the Arizona border.

Click through for an excellent overview of the saga to date.



  1. for 14,000 acre feet of water that isn’t even a sure thing.

    i sure hope it goes down and never rises again.

    so few rivers left alone these days.

    17 million *poof*

  2. LA once floated (pun intended) the idea of towing icebergs from the Arctic to SoCal for water. (Hmmm, how is that Arctic doing now?). Or tapping into the Columbia River. For the Gila Diversion, they were talking about growing higher value crops, like cannabis. I don’t think they are smoking any, but maybe they should. How many years and how many millions to reach the obvious conclusion: the Gila River can’t support a diversion?

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