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ISC AWSA Quarterly Public Meeting 102113, part 1

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of an as yet undetermined number of articles on the ISC AWSA quarterly public meeting.

The quarterly Interstate Stream Commission meeting on the Arizona Water Settlements Act Planning process was held Monday, Oct. 21, in the evening.

Reese Fullerton served as facilitator and told those gathered that it was a participatory process, and he asked people to keep their comments as short as possible and questions succinct to give everyone a chance to speak.

The first person to present was Ella Kirk, a a sophomore at Aldo Leopold Charter Public High School. "I have a petition. I made an anti-diversion petition and gathered more than 2,000 signatures. The river is blood. It is like an artery and sustains life. Ninety percent of all the wildlife is in the Gila National Forest. The river sustains this wildlife. Humans need water, too. We have the ability to be sustainable, if we act now to conserve water now. If we divert, the Gila River will be like a brook in New England. Two hundred cfs is the average flow, and we can only take water during floods, which are unpredictable. If you divert, pretty soon you would have to divert another one, because you wouldn't have learned how to be sustainable. It's not just the city, the county, the state, the nation, but Earth. We need conservation. Reuse is needed to protect the river, a place where we go to research. Have more or want less. We can get more water or we can learn to be desert people and conserve water. I wrote the petition."  

She said the Grant County Commission, on March 11, approved a resolution of a project to divert Gila River water to Deming. Kirk said she believed water needs could be met through conservation.

For her petition, the Progressive Voters Alliance gathered more than 600 signatures. Western New Mexico University gathered 300 signatures from students. "I received more than 1,300 on my website."

She then read comments she received including one from Teresa Dahl-Bredine, who said people in the area should learn to live in the desert. Another from Concord, New Hamphsire, which said diverting would be destroying a sanctuary for humans and animals.

"I will mail these packets with these signatures to the Interstate Stream commissioners, " Kirk said, as she picked up the packets from the table.

"I'm speechless. I'm in tears," Fullerton said. "That was very moving. You humanize everything we're talking about here. Our future is in good hands. You grounded this whole issue and what's at stake."

Craig Roepke, ISC deputy director said: "Thank you for coming here and for taking your time. The amount of information we're getting, we're not trying to get you to agree. We're getting this information to inform you."

Next on the agenda were three presentations.

"I ask you to hold all questions until all three presentations have been given,"  Helen Sobien, ISC staff engineer, said.

The first presentation was by Bill Miller of William J. Miller Engineers Inc.

"I am a consulting engineer from Santa Fe," Miller said. "I will give a description of the Grant County Water Commission water utilization alternative project, the proposed project facilities and the operations, including the source of the water supply."

He explained that the Grant County Water Commission wants to develop wells at the airport and to augment the wells with recharge from effluent credits from the San Vicente Arroyo.

"This project is important to Hurley, because it has no water rights," Miller said. "We will connect systems from Hurley to Silver City. The communities would continue to keep managing their own water systems."

He showed a conceptual diagram schematic with the pipeline going across private land and along the U.S. 180 right-of-way. The two wells equipped with pumps near the Grant County airport would include a chlorination pump house and an 850-gallon water tank and one booster pump station.

The main delivery line is about 15 miles long. The proposed source water comes from water rights Silver City acquired in 1982 near the airport. Also to be diverted would be an additional 750 acre-feet annually based on aquifer recharge credit, based on the effluent recharge through San Vicente Arroyo.

The wells straddle Cameron Creek a couple of miles northwest of the airport. A test well was drilled in order to develop a model for the amount of pressure required to, at the maximum, pump 943 acre-feet a year.

The water transmission line would be a 12-inch diameter PVC pipe buried to a depth of five feet, with four feet of fill over it.

Most of the pipeline would be created using excavation and backfill, except where it crosses roadways, where it would be jack and boring. Across arroyos would require special construction. The water would be delivered to a tank 40 feet above Hurley, so Hurley's tanks could fill by gravity flow.

A booster station would provide 928 gallons a minute. One pump would be 2,100 horsepower and the smaller pump, 25 horsepower. They would have variable frequency drives. The pumps and valves could be prebuilt in a pump house, delivered and installed.

The pipeline ends by Peterson Avenue in Silver City. He then showed a slide of the connection to the Bayard distribution line.

Site development would include access road construction to the individual well site at the well field, a booster station, site grading and drainage, underground power line to prevent interaction with airplanes, and security fencing.

The project would require NM Department of Transportation environmental clearance, as well as National Environment Protection Act and Clean Water Act compliance.

"We don't anticipate any issues with endangered species or wetlands," Miller said.

"Most of the land for the pipeline is private land owned by Freeport," he continued. "We don't have any idea of the costs of lease for the property. The pipeline would require at least a 30-foot wide easement."

Estimating the costs for construction, engineering and contingency costs for two wells would be $12,595,296. Operations, maintenance and repair would be $455,361, including one full-time equivalent.

The draft can be viewed at nmawsa.org, and public comments are due by Oct. 31, 2013.

The next article will cover the second and third presentations.

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