By Susan Dunlap, Silver City Sun-News
New Mexico will make decisions that determine the fate of the Gila River and the Gila Conservation Coalition held a meeting Thursday night at the Student Memorial Building at WNMU to begin gearing up to try to save the last free-flowing river in the state.
A group of approximately 30 concerned citizens, ranging from high school students to retirees, gathered in the third floor seminar room on campus to get an idea of what they could do to try to influence the outcome of the Gila River. Led by Gila Conservation Coalition Executive Director Allyson Siwik, the group listened to the options and the upcoming events they can attend to stay informed and make their voices heard.
In 2014 the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) will begin to provide reports giving analyses of the different options on the table and will make their final recommendation to the Bureau of Reclamation whether to use federal funding under the Arizona Water Settlements Act to divert 14,000 acre feet of water from the Gila River or to pursue non-diversion conservation alternatives. The federal government has promised to provide up to $62 million in funding if New Mexico opts to build a diversion project. But the Gila River diversion project is estimated to cost $300 million dollars.