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New Mexico asks Supreme Court to throw out Texas water lawsuit

Water storage levels at Elephant Butte, the Rio Grande’s largest water storage reservoir, are currently extremely low

New Mexico officials say they are meeting their legal requirements to deliver water to Elephant Butte Reservoir

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexicans are meeting their legal obligation to deliver Rio Grande water to downstream users, and the US Supreme Court should throw out a lawsuit filed by Texas in January, New Mexico attorneys said in a brief filed with the court today.

The filing is the latest move in a legal battle between the two states over water — or lack thereof — in the Rio Grande. Texas, in its January suit, charged groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico is drying up the Rio Grande, reducing flows of water to which Texas is entitled.

New Mexico countered today that Texas is trying to rewrite the terms of the Rio Grande Compact, a 1938 deal among Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. The compact only specifies a requirement to deliver water to Elephant Butte Reservoir, New Mexico’s attorneys said in their filing.

New Mexico has made its required Elephant Butte deliveries, the state’s lawyers argued in their brief filed with the court.


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“The state of New Mexico is confident that we’ve actually been meeting the terms of the compact,” New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said in an interview.

If Texas has concerns about groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico, as it argued in its suit, there are other legal forums available to fight out that issue, the New Mexico attorneys argued.

We’ll have more in tomorrow’s newspaper.