Editor's Note: This is part 4 of the Interstate Stream Commission quarterly public meeting on the Arizona Water Settlements Act planning process. This article concludes the first question and answer portion of the meeting
"Will Grant County Commission stand up and say where the water comes from?" a female speaker asked, but no answer was available.
"We don't like to discuss water as a commodity because we don't consider the Gila River as a commodity," Jim Goodkind, Silver City resident, said: "If you move water from one place to another, the price goes up from the original costs."
"People are downstream where they can have flood insurance," Todd Schulke of the Center for Biological Diversity, noted on a previous presentation (http://www.grantcountybeat.com/index.php/news/news-articles/12835-isc-awsa-quarterly-public-meeting-102113-part-2) "My explanation is that Ramos is a commissioner and an insurance broker."
"Dam breach analysis areas are not part of FEMA insurance," Rifka Wine of Bohannon Huston Inc. noted. "FEMA covers the biggest flood that could be expected from hydrometeorological maps."
"The hazard of this dam is no different than if it were built with effluent," ISC engineer Helen Sobien said.
"Yes, Ella (who spoke earlier in the session- http://www.grantcountybeat.com/index.php/news/news-articles/12834-isc-awsa-quarterly-public-meeting-102113-part-1) is my student, and I'm very proud of her," Jim McIntosh, environmental science teacher at Aldo Leopold High School, said. "I love educating along the Gila River. This is rather trivial, but we've put on a Fort Bayard Wilderness Run for 43 years.
How can we be certain of the equivalent weight of these people's comments and when the commissioners vote?"
"Most of you have attended AWSA meetings," David Anderson, ISC staff, replied. "The ISC takes all the information, and we will present it to the ISC in August for preliminary decisions. The ISC is not a proponent of any particular proposal. That's why we have studies. You're here and that's how your voice gets heard."
"The ISC knows what's what and your opinion is important and so are your comments about the process," Reese Fullerton, facilitator, said.
"We live in a representative government, not a popular government," Roger Dombrowski, retired engineer and Grant County resident, noted. "We have a representative democracy. If you don't like the way your representatives work, replace them. In the meantime, they are our government."
"Is it fair to say there will be a diversion or will the 14,000 acre-feet be allowed to remain in the river?" Blair McPherson of Catron County asked.
Craig Roepke, ISC deputy director replied: "The commission has asked for the best data and information. No decision has been made yet. In August, they will make preliminary decisions, and in November, the final decision. There is no predisposition."
"If there is no diversion, what happens to the 14,000 acre-feet?" a male speaker asked.
"It flows downstream," Roepke replied.
"This is follow up on instream flows," a female speaker said. "In other states they have been implemented. Do conservation proposals include instream flows and conservation?"
"What about an economic analysis for the reservoir for revenue?" Walter "Ski" Szymanksi of Silver City asked.
"This is germane to the assertion that no decision has been made," a female speaker said. "In an Albuquerque Journal letter to the editor, Craig Roepke did advocacy for a diversion. The letter seemed like advocacy for a diversion. It's difficult to believe that our comments will get a fair hearing."
"I'm sorry you take that position," Roepke said. "Stick around to see how we evaluate proposals."
"Is one of the proposals to leave things alone?" a male speaker asked. "How does leaving things alone get evaluated?"
"Every study has an assessment of a no-action plan," Ali Effati, ISC staff, said.
"Will there be a plan to do nothing?" the same man asked to which Fullerton replied: "Fifteen times there will be a no-action evaluation." The same man persisted: Where is the plan to leave the Gila River alone?"
"You want to know if the ISC has asked staff to evaluate a proposal to do nothing?" Roepke said and answered: "No proposal that was presented asked to do nothing."
"What about conservation?" a female speaker asked.
"There is a 30,000 acre-foot water deficit in the area," Roepke replied. "Ten thousand acre-feet of water just from the Gila River are not going to cover the deficit. We will have to do conservation, and yes, there are conservation plans."
"Did Grant County submit an economic analysis or is there another study?" Szymanski rephrased his question.
"On the website, nmawsa.org, you can see everything in the Grant County proposal," Sobien replied. "Mary Reese and Jeff Riley of Reclamation are doing an economic analysis on each proposal."
"The water belongs to the Gila River Indian Community," Szymanski said. "It's not ours. It will go to the rightful property owners."
The next article will address a presentation Craig Roepke of the ISC presented to the Interim Water and Natural Resources Committee on Oct. 14.