Save the Gila! Call to Action - Originally Posted July 2018


Deadline Friday July 20, 2018!!!!  

Please Submit your comments – A free flowing Gila depends on all of us!

Gila River Water Development Project

Environmental Impact Study (EIS)


Please come to the Public Scoping meeting and rally in Albuquerque.    The rally will be political, obviously, but it also will help you make public comments that the federal agencies can’t ignore.   


In NEPA scoping, protest is futile, but tough questions and uncomfortable facts are not.  The most useful public comments will be those that raise these questions and facts and request substantive responses.   The ACA alert sent by Robert Levin contains some potential facts and questions.  

For More Info read below or follow this link

The Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that builds dams and reservoirs, announced June 12 that it was beginning a federal Environmental Impact Statement despite the fact that the proposed project is poorly defined, would be located within declared critical habitat for seven threatened and endangered fish, bird, and amphibian species, and makes no economic sense.

The proposed project’s legal name is “The New Mexico Unit of the Central Arizona Project,” authorized in 1968. After spending more than $13 million dollars since 2012 studying and discarding dozens of alternatives and producing reams of reports, the project proponents cannot or refuse to answer basic questions, such as:  How much new usable water? For whom? At what cost? Paid by whom? For what economic benefit?

The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission has promoted Gila River dams and reservoirs since the 1930s. It is the state agency that spent $13 million since 2012 in an attempt to lay out a workable, affordable dam and reservoir configuration, moving from one failed alternative to the next. Now, it is jointly responsible for preparing the EIS with the federal Bureau of Reclamation. It is and has been the Gila River water development proponent—now it will judge the project it has promoted.

The EIS begins with public meetings and public comments. Eight public meetings will be held in Albuquerque, Silver City, Cliff-Gila, Glenwood, and Virden, New Mexico, as well as Safford, Maricopa and San Carlos, Arizona during the month of July. All meetings are open houses. July 20 is the deadline for public comments regarding impacts of the project and alternatives that should be evaluated.

Please attend one of the scoping meetings and submit comments. The Albuquerque meeting is July 2. It will be preceded by a rally organized by project opponents.


State Bar of New Mexico
5121 Masthead St NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109


State Bar of New Mexico, Rodey Classroom
5121 Masthead St NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109

Meeting details:

Public comments:


Potential Questions for EIS Public Scoping

  1. How much new usable water will the proposed NM Unit develop? How does this amount compare to existing diversions from the Gila and San Francisco Rivers?

  2. The Gila River has been fully appropriated for over 100 years. Who is now using the Gila River water that the NM Unit is intended to develop? Who will lose water? Will Arizona tribes get as much water after this project is developed as they do now?

  3. Who will use the “new” water to be developed by the NM Unit? What are their commitments to buy the water?

  4. How much water will be lost to evaporation and seepage from the large but shallow storage ponds in the Gila River flood plain and the small off-stream reservoirs? What fraction of the diverted water will be lost? What fraction will be beneficially used?

  5. How many new acres of irrigated crops are proposed to receive water from the NM Unit?

  6. What is the total estimated cost to design and construct the NM Unit?   What are the estimated annual costs of operations, maintenance, and replacement? What is the total cost per acre-foot of new usable water the project will produce?

  7. Who will pay these costs? What is the subsidy from federal and state taxpayers?

  8. What is the dollar value of the economic benefits? Will the economic benefits exceed the economic costs?

  9. Irrigation districts in Arizona went bankrupt trying to meet their obligations to pay for water from the Central Arizona Project. Most of their payment obligations were forgiven and set aside. Members of the New Mexico Unit of the Central Arizona Project Entity have stated publicly they expect to have their costs forgiven, also. How will the Environmental Impact Statement and the associated economic analysis address the willingness and ability of the beneficiaries to pay for the water in accordance with the authorizing federal law?

  10. Water use from the Gila River in New Mexico is notoriously inefficient and wasteful. Will Gila River irrigators be allowed to continue to exceed their state water right limits and divert many times more water than the amount required for their full beneficial uses?

  11. How will the NM Unit affect current river drying caused by excessive and wasteful diversions?

  12. What are the impacts on the river, its riparian areas, and its wildlife?

  13. What mitigation will be required to protect the seven threatened and endangered species that persist in the Gila River and riparian areas because their habitat remains somewhat intact? What portion of these mitigation costs will be paid by the Federal or State governments? What mitigation costs will be borne by project water users?

  14. What design features of the proposed NM Unit diversion dams will ensure safe passage for boaters, inner tubers, and/or endangered fish?

  15. Three prior configurations of the NM Unit have been proposed and evaluated since 1968 by the Bureau of Reclamation:  Hooker Dam and Reservoir, Connor Dam and Reservoir, and Mangas Creek. All failed because of environmental impact, cost, and lack of need for the water.  What about this project makes it different?

  16. What are the total energy costs and carbon footprint of the project? What are the energy requirements and costs per acre-foot of new usable water?

  17. What economic benefit does this project hold for recreation or agriculture?

  18. Will this further increase or restrict recreational access with agriculture gains?

  19. What will this project do the runnable flows for recreational boating and fishing in Gila River after it is competed?


Gila River Update - Originally Posted January 2017

Please read Keiko Ohnuma’s 12/21/2016 article in the Albuquerque Free Press on Norm Gaume’s fight to protect the Gila and demand that the NM Interstate Stream Commission (NM ISC) follow the NM Open Meetings Act: “Taking on NM’s Water Czars.”

In the article, Norm notes how little water can actually be delivered by the grossly expensive dam, and how the dam’s construction would also take away funding from the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act which could be put to use immediately for other, more sensible water projects to help Catron, Grant, Hidalgo and Luna counties.

Another article worth reading regarding Norm Gaume’s efforts to protect the Gila open is Laura Paskus’ 1/8/2017 article at The NM Political Report entitled “The ‘politics’ of Wrangling Data on the Gila.” The article describes Gaume’s difficulties in obtaining information from the NM ISC due to their interpretation of the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), which says that the “use of state agency databases for commercial, political or solicitation purposes is restricted.”

Paskus’ article includes commentary from prior and current directors of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, who question the constitutionality of requiring an individual to agree to not use information for “political purposes” in order to have access to information, and also question the NM ISC’s classification of an Excel spreadsheet as a database.

Paskus concluded her article noting that the IPRA and Open Meetings Act compliance are handled by the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General (NM OAG), and that NM OAG spokesman James Hallinan had informed her that no one had yet complained to the office regarding the database provision of IPRA or its applications, but noted that the office would review any complaints it received.

Norm, a long-time AWC member and a former director of the NM ISC in the past, has for years been fighting the ISC’s attempt to waste huge amounts of federal and state money on damming the Gila River. Norm is a hero for his demand that the NM ISC follow open-government policies, his belief that public money should not be wasted on expensive, ill-designed construction projects, and his fight to preserve the wild and scenic Gila.

If you see Norm at the AWC meeting or on the river, please give him a hearty thank you!

If you’d like more information on how to become involved to protect the Gila, visit the Gila Conservation Coalition’s website.

Organization: New Mexico Stream Access Coalition


Our mission is to secure and maintain public access to the lawful use of New Mexico’s public waters and streambeds.


To restore and enforce the right of the public to access public waters as recognized by the New Mexico Constitution, the Public Trust doctrine, and long-standing New Mexico Supreme Court jurisprudence.

Supported by:

  • the American Canoe Association (ACA)

  • the Adobe Whitewater Club (AWC).

  • Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

  • New Mexico Wildlife Federation

  • National Wildlife Federation

Learn more at