#TX v. #NM and #CO update

Elephant Butte Reservoir back in the day nearly full

Here’s a report Laura Paskus writing for The NM Political Report. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

In 2013, Texas sued New Mexico and Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court, alleging that New Mexico was taking water that legally should flow to Texas under the terms of the 1938 Rio Grande Compact by allowing farmers to pump groundwater connected to the river.

Were the Supreme Court to side with Texas, it could force some southern New Mexico chile, pecan and cotton farmers to stop pumping groundwater. Or, the state could even wind up paying Texas up to $1 billion in damages. For perspective’s sake, the state’s operating budget for 2017 was $6.1 billion, and the Land Grant Permanent Fund currently has $16 billion.

But New Mexico State Engineer Tom Blaine, the state’s top water official, painted an optimistic picture for LFC last week, saying settlement discussions are moving forward.

Blaine said he and Texas’s Rio Grande Compact Commissioner, Patrick Gordon, “talk about issues that would have to be considered for settlement.”

He also told the 18 members present and LFC director David Abbey that one of the “most noteworthy accomplishments” of his office in recent years has been building relationships in and outside the state. “Previous engineers have referred to the Lower Rio Grande as ‘Compact Texas,’ meaning ‘We don’t really represent you in New Mexico,’” Blaine said of southern New Mexico farmers who irrigate below Elephant Butte dam. “I am trying to change that paradigm, trying to build a coalition where everybody south of Elephant Butte and north of Texas, you’re in New Mexico.”

Blaine said he’s made “deliberate efforts to build relationships” with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, or EBID.

That’s the irrigation district stuck smack dab in the middle of the lawsuit.

Map of the Rio Grande watershed. Graphic credit WikiMedia.

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