Federal Gila diversion funds depleted more every year

When members of the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity, or NMCAP Entity, met in June to decide on diversion plans, their attorney, Pete Domenici, Jr., told them that if they went over the $100 million in federal money they’re planning on using to study and build the project, “I don’t know where the money is going to come from.”

When asked by NMID how much of that money has already been spent, Domenici estimated between $10 million and $15 million, but deferred to New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) staff for a more precise number.

The ISC’s communications director followed up, saying the agency had spent only $5,647,077.26, a figure that didn’t include contracts for services or grants that have been signed but not yet paid.

A tally of the contracts, change orders, and amended contracts approved between 2007 and mid-2014 puts that number at more than $11 million. Those documents were received via Inspection of Public Records Act requests by NMID.

Since 2014, additional contracts have been approved for AWSA money, including a “value engineering study” for $1.85 million, hundreds of thousands of dollars for attorneys, and a second contract to the engineering firm, AECOM, exceeding a half-million dollars. The work plans for 2016 and 2017 alone add up to more than $20 million.

The numbers are murky, in part because companies don’t always bill for the total amount of the contract. But with the NEPA process just kicking off and construction years or decades away, one thing seems clear:  Long before ground is ever broken, New Mexico may have depleted much of the federal money allocated to build the diversion project.