This is a call for help. Please pass it on if you agree! Please act if you are willing!
The Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004 allows for an additional average of 14,000 acre feet of water to be developed in New Mexico from the Gila and San Francisco Rivers as well as $66M up to $128M for project development. People have been working since 2004 to develop plans for use of the water and money in the four county region of Catron, Grant, Luna and Hidalgo counties. The Interstate Stream Commission has developed a two tier application procedure for projects (actually Tier II is still under development).
It is important to understand that by law this additional water use cannot impact the downstream water rights. Since the water cannot cut into the downstream flow so as to reduce what people downstream are entitled to, it is obvious that the only way to get the water is to trap it during times of extreme flow, such as during flood or snow melt.
The problem is that the environmental community objects to dams and diversions on the Gila or San Francisco River. The result would be that there is no way to keep water in New Mexico and the water continues on to Arizona. This is not water that would be taken from wildlife habitat or farmers downstream - it is water that is flooding away to either just evaporate or end up in the ocean. Environmental groups are urging their members to send letters to the State Engineer, the Interstate Stream Commission and others to promote their cause. I probably don’t need to tell you the importance of keeping the water here, but suffice it to say that water = life.
If we are to live here in Southwest NM, we must have water, too. Why should only people downstream of us have it to fill swimming pools, wash cars and water lawns while many of us are not even allowed to have faucets outside our houses to fill a dog's dish? If we let this opportunity go now, it will probably never recur.
Without going into the Act any deeper at this time, I am simply asking to you to send an email letter to Mr. Estevan Lopez, Director of the Interstate Stream Commission, Mr. Jim Dunlap, Chairman of the Interstate Stream Commission, to Mr. John D’Antonio, State Engineer, and/or to Governor Susana Martinez. I am pasting an example letter you can work from or develop your own. Note: this letter was supplied by Vance Lee, Chairman of the Gila/San Francisco Water Commission. More info can be obtained at http://www.awsaplanning.com/AWSA_Home.html
Mr. Lopez: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Dunlap: Waterjim1@live.com (email address corrected 05/20/11)
Mr. D’Antonio: email@example.com
Governor Martinez: Susana.firstname.lastname@example.org
-------------------- sample email letter ---------------
May 19, 2011
Mr. Estevan Lopez, Director
New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission
Dear Mr. Lopez:
In regards to the Arizona Water Settlements Act and the effort of the Interstate Stream Commission to determine use of the additional water and money, please consider this as a request for the Commission to make every effort to base its decisions on keeping the additional water in Southwest New Mexico. It is unacceptable to continue to allow water that can be made available for use in New Mexico to continue to flow downstream into Arizona. I am confident that there will be acceptable proposals via the application procedure in place to develop the additional water and to put it to beneficial use.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.