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New Mexicans Join SW Neighbors in Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

PHOTO: Gila River (a tributary of the Colorado River) and the Cliff-Gila Valley. PHOTO CREDIT: Allyson Siwik
PHOTO: Gila River (a tributary of the Colorado River) and the Cliff-Gila Valley. PHOTO CREDIT: Allyson Siwik
October 11, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As National Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close on Oct. 15, Hispanic people from New Mexico and across the Southwest are focused on the future of the Colorado River and its tributaries. Deanna Archuleta with Nuestro Rio, an organization working to save the river, says it is vital to Latinos.

"The rivers in the Southwest, to American Latinos, are like the blood that flows through our bodies. This event is really about honoring Cesar Chavez and meeting down at his homestead, which is at the confluence of the Gila and the Colorado River."

Nuestro Rio is advocating for improving urban conservation, agricultural efficiency and the establishment of water banks. A study of water supply and demand by the U.S. Department of Interior is due to conclude next month. While the report is not binding, it will be used to develop steps to address the imbalance of river water's supply and demand.

Two of New Mexico's major waterways are tributaries of the Colorado River. One is the Gila River, which provides significant water supplies to New Mexicans. The other tributary is the San Juan River. Archuleta says it provides nearly one-third of New Mexicans with at least some of their water.

"If those two tributaries are not healthy, and if we don't have a healthy ecosystem on the Colorado River, it starts to put pressure and demands on folks throughout New Mexico."

Renee Blake, Public News Service - NM