By Mary Alice Murphy
The Gila-San Francisco Water Commission held a meeting July 22, 2014, but had no quorum.
Chairman Anthony Gutierrez asked if there were any public comments.
Gerald Schultz, who represents the New Mexico Resource and Conservation Districts presented three items. In the first, he said he reviewed the report "Analysis of Flow and Water Use Alternatives on Hydrologic Conditions in the Riparian Corridor of the Gila-Cliff Basin" written by S.S. Papadopolus & Associates of Boulder, Colo., which had previous conducted a study to investigate ground and surface water interactions. The report ran four simulated scenarios with and without CUFA diversions, according to Schultz. He read from the summary: In all simulated scenarios, groundwater declines of ¼ quarter foot to one foot, depending on location, are noted during periods of CUFA diversion. The declines do not persist beyond a few days to about two weeks.
"There has been a lot of talk that 'diversions would hurt the river and the ecological balance,'" Schultz said. "I, personally, would not identify a decline equal to or less than one foot in a groundwater aquifer to be significant enough to create noticeable impacts in a river system."
He said studies would need to be done to assess using groundwater in place of diverting surface water from the river.
The second item he reviewed was the Bureau of Reclamation Appraisal Level Report on the AWSA Tier-2 proposals and other diversion and storage alternatives. The geo-tech work was not done in great detail and some cost and funding resource numbers need to be firmed up.
He said both sets of his review could be read on the ISC website—www.nmawsa.org.
In the third item, Schultz said then-Gov. Bill Richardson had proposed 12 test areas in the state where small mutual domestic water associations could form conglomerations. Grant County was selected, but not all of the MDWAs chose to join the group. After the legislative session cut back the funding, the governor vetoed it. Schultz said he heard later that it was felt that enough money had been spent in Grant County, because of the construction of the new Fort Bayard Medical Center.
"When the Grant County Water Commission was formed, I suggested the MDWAs be part of the commission, but the county manager felt the county represented them," Schultz said.
When the Gila-San Francisco Water Commission discussed having a water authority, Schultz said he felt, but never voiced, that the authority could also handle what the conglomeration was unable to do. His opinion is that a water authority will be established in southwest New Mexico, because of the history of other water authorities being established throughout the state.
M.H. "Dutch" Salmon also spoke during public comment. "I don't think any of you were at the evening meeting in Cliff. At the meeting, the Interstate Stream Commission reported it had received a critical view of the Bohannon Huston report in a review by RJH. It was quite critical of the proposal for diversion and storage—right in line with what engineer Norm Gaume had said. The ISC said the recommendations had been put into a future work order."
The public will not be able to see the scope of work, Salmon reported. "I think it should be presented to the public, so the (Interstate Stream) Commission votes the right way next month."
He also commented on the Reclamation presentation of engineering studies for the Tier-2 and several plans from Reclamation. "Jeff Riley said the ISC did not want the economic analyses presented at last night's meeting. I've seen the reports and far and away the best proposal for cost benefits was the Gila Conservation Coalition conservation plan." Salmon said none of the diversions showed many benefits. "Riley said Reclamation does not favor diversion or not, just provides data to inform the public and the ISC. He did say the final diversion would be closer to 12,000 acre-feet of water available. When the two largest reservoirs are full, they are likely to have 5,000 acre-feet of evaporation, leaving 7,000 acre-feet for use. It looks to me like the initiatives are facing serious complications. I hope the ISC can deal with them."
Schultz asked to make an announcement. He said the San Augustin Plains Ranch LLC, which wants to take water from the Plains of San Augustin in northern Catron County and transfer it to Albuquerque or wherever, faces a hearing in the court of appeals—San Augustin Plains LLC versus Scott Verhines, the state engineer. It is tentatively set for Aug. 21.
The second announcement is that Schultz has been keeping GSFWC posted on regional water planning meetings, and that the coordinator, Angela Bordegaray, has set meetings for Aug. 21 throughout the state.
The next GSFWC meeting is set for Aug. 19 at 10 a.m.