Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Mexico lawmakers sue over water settlement

A bipartisan group of legislators and a northwestern New Mexico farmer asked the state's highest court on Wednesday to nullify an agreement between the state, the federal government and the Navajo Nation settling tribal rights to water from the San Juan River. The lawsuit contends the governor can't unilaterally bind New Mexico to the deal and the settlement must be approved by the Legislature to take effect. The San Juan is drought-plagued New Mexico's largest river by volume and a major tributary of the Colorado River, which supplies water for many Western residents. The state Supreme Court was asked to invalidate the settlement and order the state to submit any proposed Navajo water deal to the Legislature for its rejection or approval, including allowing lawmakers to make possible amendments. Former Gov. Bill Richardson signed the settlement in 2010. A state district court approved the settlement in 2013, but non-Indian irrigators have appealed the decision. Three legislators — two Republicans and a Democrat — along with irrigator Jim Rogers of Waterflow, New Mexico, brought a separate challenge to the settlement by suing the state's water agencies. Lela Hunt, a spokeswoman for the State Engineer's Office, said the Legislature has "actively supported" the settlement by approving money to help pay for a required water supply project...more

No comments: