U.S. Files Brief Regarding Interstate Water Dispute

January 2014, Vol. 69 No. 1

According to a news item in The Associated Press, the Obama administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take a middle-ground approach on a water dispute between Texas and New Mexico over management of the Rio Grande.

A brief filed on Dec. 10, 2013 by the U.S. Solicitor General’s office didn’t take sides in the interstate dispute but said the Supreme Court should leave the door open for a quick resolution, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The Supreme Court should take up the case as Texas wants but also adopt a procedural approach that gives New Mexico a chance to quickly get decisions on key issues and try to get the case dismissed, the office urged.

Texas contends that groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico means Texas water users are being deprived of Rio Grande water, while New Mexico argues that Texas is getting what’s required under a compact between the states and that the Supreme Court should let other courts consider the dispute.

The federal government has a stake in the case because the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operates Elephant Butte Reservoir, which is used for delivery of much of the water involved in the dispute.