The state of Texas filed suit today against New Mexico, charging the state with failing to deliver water as required under the Rio Grande Compact. The suit is the latest salvo in a battle over how to account for and deliver water south of Elephant Butte Reservoir, both to farmers in the Las Cruces area and to Texas farms and municipal agencies.
From the Texas news release announcing the suit (TCEQ is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality):
“It is unfortunate that we have had to resort to legal action, but negotiations with New Mexico have been unsuccessful, and Texas is not getting the water that it is allocated and legally entitled to,” said TCEQ Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein.
The issues are arcane, but in a nutshell Texas charges that New Mexico’s failure to control groundwater pumping in the river basin south of Elephant Butte has drained the river (because of the close hydrologic connection between groundwater and surface water), reducing flows at the Texas-New Mexico state line.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King issued a statement accusing Texas of water rustling:
Texas is trying to rustle New Mexico’s water and is using a lawsuit to extort an agreement that would only benefit Texas while destroying water resources for hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans.
I’ve got calls out to New Mexico state officials for comment, and I’ll have more in tomorrow’s newspaper. The full Texas court filing in pdf form is here.