New state agency created for Gila diversion

After the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission voted in 2014 to build a diversion on the Gila River in the southwestern part of the state, responsibility for developing and managing the project was passed along to local governments in Luna, Grant, Hidalgo, and Grant counties.

In 2015, local officials signed a Joint Powers Agreement which transferred federal authority to design, build, operate, and maintain the project to what’s called the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity, or CAP Entity.

The board’s executive director is Anthony Gutierrez. Current members of the NMCAPE, which is represented by attorney Pete Domenici, Jr., include: Darr Shannon, chair (Hidalgo Soil and Water Conservation District); Van “Bucky” Allred (Catron County); Gabriel Ramos (Grant County), Vance Lee (Hidalgo County); Javier Diaz (Luna County); Aaron Sera (City of Deming); Clark Smith (City of Lordsburg); Richard Bauch (Village of Santa Clara); Howard Hutchinson (San Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District); Esker Mayberry (Fort West Irrigation District); Wendell Hahn (Gila Farm Irrigation District); Allen Campbell (Gila Hot Springs Irrigation District); Robert Agnew (Upper Gila Irrigation District); and Kim Abeyta Martinez (Interstate Stream Commission’s non-voting board member).

The Interstate Stream Commission still handles the project’s money, which the US Bureau of Reclamation pays into the state as outlined in the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act.

The entity, an official state agency, currently lacks a website and a public information officer. Its executive director and board members do not use state email addresses, nor are meeting minutes available online.

To receive meeting notices and agendas, email Chair Shannon at: [email protected].

For continuing local coverage on the CAP Entity and the proposed diversion, keep an eye on the work reporter Benjamin Fisher is doing for the Silver City Daily Press.