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Gila River Diversion Plan Is Approved

Laura Paskus

The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission approved a controversial proposal Monday to divert water from the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico.

The project will draw water from the river, store it in reservoirs, then pipe it over the Continental Divide, to the New Mexico town of Deming. It will take 20 years to build and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Silver City resident Dutch Salmon said he’s disappointed by the commission’s vote but he’s still hopeful the project isn’t set in stone.

“We just got nine misguided individuals [on the commission] and we’ll hope to educate them better in the coming months and years ahead,” Salmon said. “I don’t have any doubts about what will prevail in the end and keep our river as we’ve known it to be.”

Blaine Sanchez was the only commissioner to vote against the project, saying there wasn’t enough information on how the project would be paid for.

The state will now send a letter to the federal government, opening the way for New Mexico to receive millions of dollars in federal funding. 

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