Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Board picks two Gila diversion projects

SILVER CITY – The local board in charge of plans to divert water from the Gila River decided Monday to pursue a combination of two projects that may cost less but would also deliver less water than planners originally intended. Facing a Friday deadline to inform the Bureau of Reclamation of its plans, the New Mexico Central Arizona Project entity selected alternatives for further study that would, together over the long term, divert water from a northern point on the river to storage areas underground and in one or two canyons. Contract engineering firm AECOM estimated the initial phases of the projects would cost $84 million and $82.5 million, respectively – although there is expected to be significant overlap in the infrastructure. Total cost for each alternative fully built, but excluding potential savings due to overlap, is $366 million and $336 million, respectively, according to the AECOM analysis. An estimate for the combined project, stripping out duplication, was not discussed but would be significantly less than the totals added together, said NM CAP entity Executive Director Anthony Gutierrez. New Mexico is entitled to an average 14,000 acre-feet of water per year under the Arizona Water Settlement Act, and the act allots the state up to $128 million to pursue a diversion. NM CAP entity board members made it clear at a recent meeting that they wanted a project that was “feasible” with a budget of $80 million to $100 million and a yield of up to 4,000 acre-feet. Together, the projects selected would yield in their initial phases up to 1,800 acre-feet annually and in the longer term up to 3,000 acre-feet, according to AECOM estimates...more

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