Editor's Note: This is the final article on the Gila/San Francisco Water Commission meeting on Oct. 22. It will cover discuss on a potential publicist and more public comments and discussion.
"We will, with approval, present a scope of work for a professional publicist to the ISC, with a $2,500 commitment from the Gila/San Francisco Water Commission," Vance Lee, Gila/San Francisco Water Commission member representing Hidalgo County and serving as a sub-committee chairman. "We want to make known the facts, so the populace understands what is going on."
Gerald Schultz, representing the state RC&D activities, asked if the public would be exposed to the job description
"The intent of the committee is to piggyback on an ISC publicist," Rick McInturff, city of Deming administrator, said.
"The ISC made the statement that the ISC is neutral, but a publicist will be promoting diversion," M.H. "Dutch" Salmon of the Gila Conservation Coalition noted.
"The communications committee wants to provide information on diversions and the CUFA," Alex Thal, GSFWC member, representing the Grant Soil and Water Conservation District said. "It will be up to the ISC."
"To declare at one meeting that the ISC is neutral and then at the next meeting to piggyback on the publicist is not a good idea," Salmon suggested.
"The ISC is charged with acquiring the 14,000 acre-feet," Thal said.
Meyoni Geogé, who approached the podium, bowing with her hands in prayer-like position, said: "I appreciate the wisdom of the ages represented by you commissioners."
She then began into her comments.
"Agriculture is the greatest user of water in New Mexico. Snow brings the water table up.
"Some Deming wells are going down 70 feet. Without snowpack, none of us have (sic) water or agriculture has to leave so others can live here. Which of you is going to play God to bring snow?
So what is this discussion? The Mimbres is also dependent on snowpack. It used to be 12-16 feet. Last year, it was 12 inches.
Duck Creek didn't get to the Gila River. Mule Creek went underground for the first time. Rain waters plants. No snow, no water.
The water table was 15 feet below ground when I moved here. I don't know what it is now.
Albuquerque's is down 120 feet. The water is not enough. It doesn't exist. The Jetstream causes the wet and dry. It's not flowing the same way anymore. We don't control that.
Grant County said no to $10 million for recreation. There is no money in our pockets. You will leave us with huge bills. The next generations will say: 'Why did our grandfathers do this?' We're not God. Without snow, we're all doomed."
Lee noted that another thing that affects water flow is too many trees. "This time of year water flows because the leaves are dropping, and the trees are not using the water as much."
"There are more megafires, and now there are no trees to keep the snowpack," Geogé said.
McInturff to GSFWC Chairman Tom Bates: "You were involved in the early planning. Wasn't it found that in supply and demand that demand exceeds supply by 30,000 acre-feet? Looking at the 15 projects, conservation will decrease demand by about 20,000 acre-feet. With the additional 14,000 acre-feet, we hope to come to equilibrium."
"At the Interim Water and Natural Resources Committee meeting, some thought the state would have to pay more," McInturff continued. "No proposal asks for state funding, although there are borrowing provisions. They are saying we are going to spend state money, but it's not on the table."
Bates noted that at the previous evening's public meeting, a young girl presented petitions with more than 2,000 signatures. One thing she said that struck me was that we live in the desert and we need to adapt to the desert.
"We've been told in presentations that if counties don't pay, it will be state funds," Geogé said.
McInturff replied: "I think that if this area doesn't use the water, then the state may step in."
"If Grant County turned down the $10 million, why would it want to spend on 14,000 acre-feet of water?" Geogé asked.
"You are hitting the point on return on investment, which we need to know," Thal said.
Geogé continued: "It's obvious you and we have been lied to by the ISC. It's not a clean game."
"Who's going to make it snow?" she persisted. "Rain runs off. Don't invite more to live here. We don't know the future. We can only guess. If water has been going down so long, why wasn't something done?
"The ISC is jumping over some drafts. It's not a clean game," she concluded.
Lee reported that the commission is running 30-second slots on CATS TV, with facts off the brochure.
"I put out brochures at the county fair," Bates said. "Commissioner (Ron) Hall generated good discussions, but we were preaching to the choir."
"Anthony Gutierrez did outreach to those who use the water, but fairs bring in a diversity of people," Thal said. "Anthony talked to more than 100 people who supported the use of water."
An agenda item was an update on the Input Group meeting held the day before, to which McInturff said that all the material that was covered at the beginning of the GSFWC meeting was presented.
For the treasurer's report, Thal said it was all covered in the discussion on the reservation fund.
During public comments, Schultz said: "We were in Kansas City and flew to Los Angeles and then to El Paso. I enjoy looking out airplane windows. We crossed the Colorado River, which was wide and green. I could see the Gila River from Phoenix to near here. At the end here there was a tiny thread of green visible."
"These are things poets like to see," Schultz said. "I can see the viewpoint of environmentalists is the same as that of poets."
He said an article in the Albuquerque Journal said the aquifer is resting, because the city is using the San Juan-Chama water. "The rise of their groundwater level, some attributed to the geology, but Rio Rancho is still dropping, because of over-pumping. The level varies across the aquifer."
Schultz also reported that in Jal the aquifer is rising because of rains. "There are folds, faults and cracks in aquifers. It involves the interconnection of surface water and aquifer water. Debbie Hathaway is doing a study on this."
His final comment was: "It is not proper not to have a final draft period for review."
Bates returned to the discuss on the reservation fund, and said Anthony was going to have it reviewed by the county attorney, but he (Bates) had not heard anything.
Thal asked for a timeframe on when the issue will be decided.
"We will do it as quickly as possible," Bates said.
"Anthony was also going to work on a revision of the Open Meetings Act changes, but it's so close to next year, maybe it can wait," Lee said.
"There is supposed to be a drought seminar in Albuquerque in November," Schultz announced, and Thal suggested he check the state drought task force website for information.
The next meeting will be at 1:30 on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Lee asked if the commission could meet in November and not in December? The commissioners agreed that no meeting would be held in December, to which Bates requested the election of officers be put on the November agenda.