From the December 2014 Newsletter
New Mexico’s Interstate Stream Commission voted to notify the U.S. Interior Department that it wants to take advantage of federal funding to build a diversion and storage system along the Gila River. The Commission also decided that some of the money should go toward municipal conservation efforts and other projects aimed at stretching the drought-stricken region’s water supplies.
State Engineer Scott Verhines, New Mexico’s top water official and a member of the commission, said the point of regional water planning is to identify and implement strategies to balance supply and demand. He said the options approved by the commission will do that for cities and farms in southwestern New Mexico.
The commission’s action comes after more than 200 meetings, volumes of public comment, million-dollar engineering studies and a flood of complaints by environmental groups and the commission’s former director that the planning process was shrouded in secrecy and that the outcome was predetermined. The commission dismissed those claims, and a state district judge decided in late November to clear the way for the panel to continue deliberating the contentious issue. The commission faced a Dec. 31 deadline under the Arizona Water Settlements Act to decide what to do with its share of the river.