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Gila diversion plans changed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The proposed Gila River diversion plan has been altered to reduce construction and maintenance costs and to cut the price of diverted water for potential customers. The New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity, or CAP, approved the changes at its meeting earlier this month in Silver City.

CAP was created in 2015 to oversee how money from the Arizona Water Settlements Act is spent on water projects in southwest New Mexico. The entity has submitted the changes, along with comments on the project’s draft environmental impact statement, to the Bureau of Reclamation.

NMCAP entity lawyer Pete Domenici Jr., provided the Journal with the letter sent to Reclamation.

On July 2, the CAP entity eliminated several reservoirs, storage ponds and pump stations from the Gila diversion plan. The changes reduced total costs by about $83 million, but will also reduce the amount of water the project is able to divert.

With the proposed changes, estimated water costs per acre-foot are now $277 for Virden Valley, $260 for the Cliff-Gila Valley and $294 for the San Francisco River Valley. Those costs are down from an original $311 per acre-foot for Virden Valley, $540 for the Cliff-Gila Valley and $8,509 for the San Francisco River Valley.

Now the entity begins work on a long-awaited business plan for the Gila diversion.

“The business plan is really the nuts and bolts of how the diverted water can be sold,” Domenici said.

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