A case involving rights to the Rio Grande styled Texas vs. New Mexico and Colorado, No. 141, Original, has been before the United States Supreme Court for eight years. Filed with the Supreme Court in 2014, no lower court has heard the case because it involves multiple states.
As reported in El Paso Matters, the dispute arose over Texas’ allegation that New Mexico’s groundwater pumping was pulling water out of the river, depriving Texas of its rights under the 1938 Rio Grande Compact. Fortune Magazine adds that New Mexico says that it has been shorted its share of water in the river. A judge in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals was appointed as a special master. A timeline of pleadings is published on SCOTUS Blog, and the docket and documents filed with the Special Master are available at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals website.
In an order issued today, the Special Master stayed litigation in the case pending completion of several requirements, including a deadline for New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado to file a motion to adopt their proposed settlement decree by or on November 14, 2022, with accompanying briefs and supporting appendices. The proposed settlement decree and appendices are to be filed under seal.
El Paso Matters and other publications are reporting that the federal government, which manages several dams and canals along the Rio Grande system, and water districts subject to international treaties with Mexico, are opposed to a settlement between the three states.
The case has cost millions of dollars so far. Water supplies are dwindling due to increased demand, drought, and warmer temperatures created by climate change.
Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande. G. Thomas, 2006. Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.