Gila River named America’s ‘Most Endangered River of 2019’

New Mexico
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The fight to protect the Gila River continues.

Environmentalists say a controversial plan to divert water from Arizona to New Mexico will cause the river to dry up, ruining ecosystems and farmland.

The American Rivers Organization recently named the Gila No. 1 on the list for the nation’s most endangered rivers.

It’s now calling on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to choose a healthier, more cost-effective way to provide water to the state.

“New Mexicans can’t afford to dry up their last wild river,” said Matt Rice, Colorado Basin Director for American Rivers in a news release. “Ruining the Gila River with an expensive diversion project doesn’t make sense when there are better, more cost-effective water supply options. We are already feeling the impacts of climate change in New Mexico and across the Southwest, and it’s only going to get worse. The decisions we make today will determine whether we have healthy rivers and secure water supplies in the future. We have an opportunity on the Gila to demonstrate that it is possible to protect healthy rivers and meet our water needs in an era of climate change.”

According to scientists, due to climate change, the Gila River will cease to be a snowpack-fed river by mid-century.

This is the third time the river has been placed on the endangered list since 1995. It was also on the list in 1996, 2008, and 2014. Other rivers in the region listed as most endangered in recent years include the Lower Rio Grande (2018), Lower Colorado River (2017) and Colorado River in the Grand Canyon (2015). 

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