Professionals within the fields of water resources and community and regional planning have engaged in dialogue about how to balance water consumption with development patterns in the western United States. Central to this discussion is a debate about future water management of the Gila River. There is a wide spectrum of opinions regarding the value of leaving water in the river for environmental reasons versus diverting it from the river for increased commercial development. The 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) provides the state of New Mexico with 140,000 acre-feet in any ten-year period of water rights on the Gila River in perpetuity. The AWSA also grants $66 million to $128 million dollars (depending on the type of water project being pursued) for New Mexico to use to meet water demand in southwestern New Mexico. Decisions regarding how to allocate the funding and use the water, in compliance with Consumptive Use Forbearance Agreement (CUFA), need to be made by 2014. The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (NMISC) will make these decisions in consultation with the Southwest New Mexico Water Planning Board, the citizens of southwest New Mexico and other interested parties. In this paper, I examine three options for using the newly confirmed water rights as instream flows on the Gila River and discuss how these options are environmentally and economically viable. I recommend using a combination of methods to support instream flows that includes the purchasing and leasing of instream flows in the private market, leasing the water rights to Arizona and dedicating the water rights to instream flows.
Water resources development--New Mexico--Grant County--Planning., Water resources development--New Mexico--Hidalgo County--Planning., Water resources development--Gila River (N.M. and Ariz.)--Planning., Instream flow--Gila River (N.M. and Ariz.)--Management., Water resources development--Government policy--New Mexico.
Geery, Emily. "Using instream flows on the Gila River to provide benefits for the environment and the economy." (2007). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/wr_sp/4