The water supply 'gap' between Southwestern New Mexico cities' water supplies and new demands is only 35 acre feet, which can be met with available water conservation practices, rather than constructing the expensive, unnecessary Gila diversion project.
The report shows that the proposed Gila diversion project, despite a committed federal subsidy under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA), would still burden ratepayers in SW New Mexico or state tax payers with $300 million needed to cover project costs, as well as additional annual operating costs of over $6 million. New analysis also found that the water supply ‘gap’ between cities’ water supplies and new demands is only 35 acre feet and this amount can be entirely met with currently available water conservation practices and strategies.
This assessment provides several key recommendations for water planners and policy makers that can help New Mexico chart a path forward to meet the water needs of the region without expensive infrastructure and sacrificing the state’s important freshwater resources:
- Do not burden Southwestern New Mexico customers or New Mexico state tax payers with an expensive and unnecessary diversion project when cheaper and more flexible alternatives are available.
- Meet the projected gap with conservation. Conservation is the cheapest and fastest way to stretch water supplies, and conservation measures can be developed incrementally and over time, as population (and demands) grow, which does not financially commit communities—and future generations—to large, expensive, and unnecessary structural projects.
- Maximize the role of water reuse to meet the future needs of the region’s residents, and work to improve public perception and acceptance of reuse projects.
- Protect the region’s freshwater resources as an integral part of any future water development strategy. Outdoor recreation and non-consumptive uses of water for fishing, rafting, and other uses are worth billions of dollars annually to the state’s economy and are critical to New Mexico’s quality of life.