Western states could settle feud over beleaguered Rio Grande

Jul 5, 2022, 3:02 PM | Updated: 3:35 pm
FILE - This April 10, 2022 image shows the Rio Grande flowing just north of Albuquerque, N.M. The f...

FILE - This April 10, 2022 image shows the Rio Grande flowing just north of Albuquerque, N.M. The fight between Texas and New Mexico over management of one of the longest rivers in North America could be nearing an end. New Mexico's attorney general said Tuesday, July 5, 2022, that a trial date has been put off by a special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court since the parties agreed to continue settlement negotiations. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The fight between Texas and New Mexico over the management of one of the longest rivers in North America could be nearing an end as a date to resume the trial has been put off pending negotiations aimed at settling the years-long case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Tuesday that a special master appointed by the court cleared the way for ongoing negotiations and set a date in July for a status update.

The Supreme Court would have to approve any agreement reached by the states. In the case of an impasse, the trial would continue later this year.

“We assembled the best legal and scientific team in the nation to disprove that our farmers and our communities owed billions in damages to Texas, and we are now on the cusp of an exciting historic settlement agreement that will protect New Mexico water for generations to come,” Balderas said in a statement.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to questions about the negotiations or a possible settlement.

The battle over the Rio Grande has become a multimillion-dollar case in a region where water supplies are dwindling due to increased demand along with drought and warmer temperatures brought on by climate change.

The river through stretches of New Mexico marked record low flows again this year, resulting in some farmers voluntarily fallowing fields to help the state meet downstream obligations mandated by water-sharing compacts that date back decades.

Texas has argued that groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico is reducing the river’s flow and cutting into how much water makes it across the border. New Mexico argues that it has been shorted on its share of the river.

The first phase of trial was completed last fall, with testimony from farmers, hydrologists, irrigation managers and others. More technical testimony was expected to be part of the next phase.

A robust start to the monsoon season has given the Rio Grande somewhat of a reprieve after state and federal water managers had warned that stretches of the river closer to Albuquerque would likely go dry this summer as New Mexico’s mega-drought continues.

Tricia Snyder, the interim wild rivers program director for the group WildEarth Guardians, said policymakers need to fundamentally rethink how to manage and value river systems.

“Like many river basins throughout the American West, we are approaching a crisis point,” she said. “Climate change is throwing into sharp relief the cracks in western water management and policy and the unsustainable water allocation included in that.”

Snyder and others have said that status quo has resulted in water resources being tapped out in the West and that all users — from cities and industry to farmers and Native American tribes — will need a seat at the table during future discussions on how to live within a river’s means.

The latest federal map shows about three-quarters of the western U.S. are dealing with some level of drought. That is less than three months ago. But federal agriculture officials reported Tuesday that weekly rainfall accumulations for several locations were still well below average.

In New Mexico, the driest areas were on the eastern side of the state, where precipitation has totaled 25% of normal or less. That has affected cotton and hay crops as well as cattle and sheep herds.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Kimberly Palmer: How to handle your medical bills

When she was 19, writer Emily Maloney found herself facing about $50,000 in medical debt after hospital treatment for a mental health crisis. The debt followed her throughout her twenties, hurting her credit and leading to stressful calls from collection agencies. Her experience is all too common: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that about […]
4 hours ago
Associated Press

Jerzy Urban, spokesman for Polish communist govt, dies at 89

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Jerzy Urban, a spokesman for Poland’s communist-era government in the 1980s who masterminded state propaganda and censorship for a regime in the final years before its collapse, has died. He was 89. His death was announced on Monday by a satirical weekly magazine, Nie (No), which he founded and led in […]
4 hours ago
A shadow is cast on the stage of the Trafo House of Contemporary Arts while technicians set up the ...
Associated Press

Music stops: Energy costs close Hungary theaters for winter

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A theater in Hungary’s capital will sit through a cold and quiet winter after its managers chose to shut it down rather than pay skyrocketing utility prices that are putting a squeeze on businesses and cultural institutions across Europe. The 111-year-old Erkel Theatre in Budapest, one of three performance spaces of […]
4 hours ago
In this photo provided by the Armed Forces of Denmark, a view the disturbance in the water above th...
Associated Press

Sweden sends special diving vessel to area of pipeline leaks

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden has sent a vessel capable of “advanced diving missions” to the Baltic Sea area where ruptured undersea pipelines leaked natural gas for days, the Swedish navy said Monday. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of sabotaging Russia-built natural gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea to Germany, a […]
4 hours ago
In this picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supre...
Associated Press

Iran’s supreme leader breaks silence on protests, blames US

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded publicly on Monday to the biggest protests in Iran in years, breaking weeks of silence to condemn what he called “rioting” and accuse the U.S. and Israel of planning the protests. Khamenei said he was “heartbroken” by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa […]
4 hours ago
Columbus Blue Jackets' Johnny Gaudreau, right, looks for an open pass against the Pittsburgh Pengui...
Associated Press

Gaudreau to Columbus tops busy summer of NHL player movement

Johnny Hockey moved East, though not as far as everyone thought. The champs out West couldn’t keep the entire band together. And two teams with lengthy playoff droughts made some moves hoping to change that. Johnny Gaudreau joining Columbus headlined a busy offseason of player movement around the NHL. Darcy Kuemper left Colorado for Washington […]
4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Western states could settle feud over beleaguered Rio Grande