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Gila River diversion entity gets approval from Interstate Stream Commission after long effort


ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The Interstate Stream Commission has approved a resolution designating a 14-member unit to design and build the Gila River diversion project in southwestern New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://goo.gl/Cx480V) that the resolution was approved Wednesday at a meeting and identified parties making up the New Mexico CAP, or Central Arizona Project, entity.

The creation of the unit was necessary to proceed with the project that provides for the annual diversion of water from the Gila River for use in Catron, Grant, Luna and Hidalgo counties.

Authorized by the 2004 Arizona Water Settlement Act, the project provides for the diversion of up to 14,000 acre-feet of Gila River water each year.

An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre to a depth of one foot.

The settlement act provides for $128 million in federal money for the project, but cost estimates range up to $1 billion, causing some observers, including ISC commissioners, to wonder where funding will come from once the federal money is used up.

The commission itself rounds out the 14-party entity, serving as a nonvoting member.

Wednesday's vote was an important step in what has been a long and troubled process.

"When we started this, I wondered if we would ever see the appointment of the New Mexico CAP," commission Chairman Jim Dunlap said after the resolution passed.

Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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