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New Mexico irrigators ask to intervene in Texas-NM water suit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The irrigation district that serves farmers on New Mexico’s lower Rio Grande filed a motion today to intervene in interstate litigation between Texas and New Mexico over the river’s increasingly strained water supply.

The measure argues that the Elephant Butte Irrigation District is in a sort of legal limbo, represented neither by the state of New Mexico nor the state of Texas in the high-stakes water battle. “We’re an island,” EBID attorney Steve Hernandez said in a phone interview. “Everybody claims us but nobody represents us.”

In the suit, Texas argues that New Mexico is permitting groundwater pumping that effectively deprives Texas of water as the Rio Grande flows through the southern part of New Mexico. In response, New Mexico argues that it is meeting the legal requirements of the Rio Grande Compact, the interstate deal apportioning the river’s water, by delivering water downstream of Elephant Butte Reservoir.

That argument leaves EBID in an uncomfortable location – downstream of Elephant Butte in what Hernandez calls “compact Texas,” but not represented by attorneys for Texas in the litigation.

Here’s EBID’s brief:


EBID Motion to Intervene by John R. Fleck