I am writing in response to your coverage of the Interstate Stream Commission's (ISC) meeting about the Colorado River Basin Study. Protect the Flows has closely followed the study and agree "We're vulnerable if we do nothing and continue business as usual on this entire basin." We feel innovative solutions to the water shortages are crucial. The study concluded that the most cost effective and easily implementable solutions are to improve urban and agricultural water conservation and similar measures that focus on efficiency and flexibility. Since the study was released workgroups have been formed to focus on urban/municipal conservation, agricultural efficiency and healthy flows. We want this process to produce an actionable plan to achieve at least the 3 million acre feet of water savings via urban and agricultural conservation identified as achievable in the basin study.

Last month we commissioned a poll by Public Opinion Strategies to find out the sentiments of New Mexico voters on the state's water issues. The poll reveals that New Mexicans are gravely concerned about the health of rivers, believe that rivers are critical to quality of life, and reject the concept of river diversions in favor of non-diversion. The poll was conducted as the ISC is considering whether to utilize federal funding to divert 14,000 acre feet of water from the Gila River, or to pursue non-diversion conservation alternatives. More than 85 percent of voters reject river diversions in favor of alternative approaches like water conservation, using new technology to help reduce wasted water, and increasing recycling of water. These are also the types of non-diversion solutions that the Basin Study found to be more cost-effective. The huge price-tag for a Gila diversion is a major concern. Only 30 percent are willing to pay for the diversion project. The writing seems to be on the wall for decision makers- the Basin Study has found conservation and efficiency measures to be more cost effective, and New Mexicans agree that these are the options they prefer too. Diversion projects, like the one being discussed for the Gila River are costly and New Mexicans have shown they do not want to bear those costs as taxpayers. The ISC should choose the non-diversion alternatives instead of diverting water from the Gila River.

Molly Mugglestone

Protect the Flows Co-Director

Protect the Flows

Gunnison, Colo.