Managing the water resources in the arid Southwest is a
significant concern for all residents of this area. Federal Wilderness
designation restricts construction of any structures, including dams and
water holding facilities. Prohibition of mechanized and motorized
equipment will hamper maintenance of existing dams in the designated
conservation projects in our region typically focus on managing arroyo
runoff to prevent flooding through delayed release of water, and allowing
for beneficial use of excess water that otherwise would not be used.
These projects can require the construction and maintenance of various
structures and the installation of monitoring equipment.
Butte Irrigation District is the single largest supplier of surface
water in New Mexico, serving over
8000 constituents in Southern New Mexico. EBID has expressed serious concerns about management of
water, flood control, and reliable capture of runoff water in the proposed
wilderness areas. In the conclusion of his letter,
Esslinger, Treasurer/Manager of EBID, states "We urge everyone
else to take into consideration the dynamics of protecting future watershed
resources without imposing such restrictions in these designated wilderness
areas that the water resources cannot be used appropriately."
Gary Esslinger, Treasurer/Manager of EBID,
has expressed concerns about the proposed
wilderness designations and their impact on water resource management for
our region. Mr. Esslinger states "The need to plan for future
flood control and appurtenances in our watershed during the summer monsoon
season could have a great impact on future wilderness designated sites and
we could miss the opportunity to reuse storm runoff as a vital resource to
recharge our aquifers and diminish the need to drain down our reservoir.
... it would be to everyone's advantage to find a way to preserve and
protect our water resources rather than to deny access to areas where such
flood control improvements could be very beneficial.".
Testimony of Gary
Esslinger, Elephant Butte Irrigation District, Las Cruces Field Hearing on
Gary Esslinger - Elephant
Butte Irrigation District (oral testimony)
Gary Esslinger - Elephant
Butte Irrigation District (written testimony)
The Elephant Butte
Irrigation District Board of Directors voted unanimously on 12/10/2007 to
endorse and support the DONA ANA COUNTY PLANNED GROWTH, OPEN SPACE AND
RANGELAND PRESERVATION ACT - THE PEOPLE'S PROPOSAL
To learn more, read the
minutes from the 12/10/07 Board meeting.
The legislative restrictions imposed on
lands designed as "wilderness" establish strict limitations on the access, activities
and modifications to the land which can occur, which will severely restrict and/or
eliminate the options available for the management of our water resources.
Activities such as building berms, dams,
spillways and water holding areas to manage flood control and capture and
retain runoff water necessarily
involve access to the areas in question, as well as the ability to build
and maintain the required infrastructure. Accomplishing these
activities within the confines of the wilderness restrictions would be
challenging, if not altogether impossible.
The negative impacts of a
wilderness designation on the ability to appropriately manage our water
resources should be a major concern for all of us.