A Special Master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico by asking the Supreme Court to approve a settlement that makes critical progress toward ensuring proper distribution of the Rio Grande’s resources.
The case, which initially began over ten years ago, sought to address a dispute over water being unfairly siphoned from the Rio Grande prior to the river reaching Texas. Much of the dispute was focused on a stretch of the river between Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico and the Texas state line. Under the Rio Grande Compact, New Mexico and Colorado must meet certain delivery obligations to ensure that water from the Rio Grande is delivered to Texas. This agreement enforces the obligations.
Implementation of the agreement, which was first announced by the Office of the Attorney General in November 2022, depends on approval by the U.S. Supreme Court. The multistate agreement guarantees Texas receives its water—an overwhelmingly positive outcome for the State and its citizens—while also according the State of New Mexico the flexibility to properly control the ground water pumping that draws water from the Rio Grande. Nevertheless, the federal government has continued to object to this crucial settlement. If the U.S. Supreme Court overrules the Biden Administration’s objection, the Court would then enter the Consent Decree proposed by the Compacting States.
Recognizing the value and fairness of the states’ agreement, the Special Master stated the following in the ruling: “Simply put, the Consent Decree resolves the dispute over the Texas and downstream New Mexico apportionments and protects the Texas apportionment . . . against New Mexican actions. . . . [I]t is difficult to envision a resolution to this matter that might be superior to the Consent Decree [that Texas seeks].”
To read the full ruling, click here.
To read the addendum referenced in the ruling, click here.