ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission on Monday said “yes” to a controversial proposal to divert water from the Gila River for use in southwestern New Mexico farms and cities – but with reservations.
The commission agreed to formally notify the U.S. Department of Interior that it wants to proceed with a project that would divert water from the Gila during times of high flow, building reservoir storage so that it can then be piped for as yet unidentified uses.
The vote allows the state to meet a Dec. 31 federal deadline to take the project’s next steps, a move that could free up $62 million in additional federal funding. But commissioners cautioned that more hurdles remain, chief among them the cost of a potential project and the ability of the state and local communities to pay for it, and that the state is not committed to build the project if it determines it is too costly.
“New Mexico’s financial options will remain open for years to come,” acting Interstate Stream Commission Director Amy Haas said in a statement issued by the agency following the vote.