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Texas v. New Mexico Rio Grande trial delayed due to settlement talks

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A years-long legal battle between the states of Texas and New Mexico over the Rio Grande just got longer.

The Texas v. New Mexico Supreme Court case involves legal issues surrounding the 19-38 Rio Grande compact, which helps govern water deliveries to New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado.

“The Rio Grande is kinda the lifeblood of this area and so this compact is the only thing that keeps Colorado and New Mexico from damming the Rio Grande and keeping it all for themselves,” said Todd Curry an Associate Political Science professor at UTEP.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court case Texas v. New Mexico was delayed again when a federal judge canceled the upcoming October 3 trial date in hopes that the two states can settle their differences outside of court.

“The delays that go on are because of either new evidence or in the case of this very specific case and this example on Tuesday is that there is probably going to be a deal. There’s going to be a compromise that comes out of this,” said Curry.

The delays come from negations with both states surrounding the Rio Grande compact.

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“In this particular case, the United States has intervened as a party on behalf of Texas. So basically, siding with Texas,” said Curry.

The state of Texas is arguing that the use of groundwater below the Elephant Butte reservoir in New Mexico is depleting their share of the Rio Grande.

“It has largely dealt with water rights regarding the Rio Grande Compact and weather New Mexico in like debating groundwater from the Rio Grande has violated the compact.”

On July 26, both Texas and New Mexico will have to address the court with the progress they have made in regards to reaching a settlement.

If all parties reach a collective agreement, the findings will be presented, and then the supreme court would have to sign off on it.

“So, the outcome will probably be some admit of fault on behalf of New Mexico but with no generalized punishment. There’s really no way to un-do something that happened in 2014,” said Curry.

Curry said these negations could eventually lead to a settlement between the states or possibly a new trial date in the Supreme Court.

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