Wildlife group gathers petition signatures over Gila project

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – An Albuquerque-based wildlife group has gathered hundreds of petition signatures in support of halting plans to develop New Mexico’s share of the Gila River.

The New Mexico Wildlife Federation is delivering the petition signatures to Gov. Susana Martinez’s office on Thursday. The group contends the project would be a burden on taxpayers and lead to environmental damage.

Under the Arizona Water Settlements Act, New Mexico is entitled to about 14,000 acre-feet of water a year from the river, or about 4.5 billion gallons.

There has been much debate and legal wrangling in recent years over multimillion-dollar diversion proposals.

Federal officials at one point estimated that the cost of a major diversion could reach $1 billion. State and local officials last summer opted to pursue at least two smaller-scale alternatives.

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