May 23, 2018

NM fires back in Rio Grande water battle

Laura Paskus

The Rio Grande in Mesilla, N.M., April 2018

New Mexico filed its responses to Texas and the federal government on a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit over the waters of the Rio Grande.

On Tuesday night, New Mexico Attorney General and its contract attorneys filed the state’s counterclaims on Texas v. New Mexico & Colorado. We’ve posted those three pleadings below.

A press release announcing the counterclaims included a quote from Balderas:

Our legal strategy will hold Texas and the federal government accountable for the significant amount of precious water being misappropriated that rightfully belongs to New Mexico’s working families and small businesses, and for the federal government not using proper accounting and failing to ensure reasonable water delivery improvements. Using the best science, technology and evidence-based strategy, we will protect our traditionally underserved and culturally diverse population, and protect against those interests that threaten our citizens and businesses.

Five years ago, Texas sued New Mexico and Colorado, alleging that New Mexico failed for decades to send its legal share of water downstream by allowing farmers in southern New Mexico to pump groundwater near the Rio Grande. Texas filed the lawsuit after New Mexico sued over a 2008 operating agreement between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, southern New Mexico farmers and Texas water users. This year, the Supreme Court allowed the U.S. government to intervene in the case against New Mexico.

Earlier today, we reported that New Mexico entered into Article VII restrictions on the Rio Grande as storage in Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs dropped below 400,000 acre-feet. Under Article VII of the Rio Grande Compact, that means Colorado and New Mexico can’t store water in any upstream reservoirs built after 1929.

To read our continuing coverage of Texas v. New Mexico & Colorado visit here.

State of New Mexico's Answer to the State of Texas's Complaint by New Mexico Political Report on Scribd

State of New Mexico's Answer to the United States' Complaint in Intervention by New Mexico Political Report on Scribd

State of New Mexico's Counterclaims by New Mexico Political Report on Scribd