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.