[Cdt-l] Gila River diversion

Brett blisterfree at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 28 13:21:06 CST 2014

Unfortunately the Gila isn't a free-flowing river thanks to the San Carlos reservoir in Arizona. It's still free-flowing in New Mexico, though, true enough. However a diversion dam would be disastrous for downstream river ecology as well as agricultural communities like Safford AZ. It won't happen if the powers that be know what's good for them (and by some miracle, for those other than them).

This project seems to have momentum mainly because it's the tacit job of state water commission to give the green light to further study, analysis, feasibility, etc. In reality it will probably never happen, since the construction costs will likely be enormous vs. the potential economic benefit. No one is under any illusions that the little Gila River could possibly turn Southwest New Mexico into an agricultural powerhouse.

The Gila Box National Riparian Conservation Area depends entirely on the Gila River to keep it a going concern, and there is no way - given recent precedent with other US waters like the San Pedro River near Sierra Vista - that the BLM sits idly by while a state agency upstream fixes plans to screw with the water and sediment flows of the Gila under the banner of state's rights. Hikers may slosh through the infant Gila around Doc Campbells and feel a sense of moral outrage, but luckily the Gila has a long history as the focal point for conservation that is well organized and in some cases enshrined in law.

Ain't gonna happen. But keep an eye on the issue, yes.


- Brett

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