Complicating the issue is a 1944 water treaty between the United States and Mexico that gives up a portion of all Rio Grande water to Mexican water officials because the river serves as an international border between the two countries. Mexican officials charged that since the border falls in the middle of the river, half of that water stream belongs to them.

The water left over is the amount that has become the subject of disagreement between the two states.

In response to King's lawsuit, Texas officials last year petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case, charging that any and all lower courts do not have adequate authority to settle the water issue or to rule on the 2008 interstate water agreement entered into by the two states. The high court's decision this week clears the way for litigation to proceed, but it also provides New Mexico officials the right to offer reasons why the case should be dismissed.

While King says he welcomes the chance for New Mexico to present its side of the story to the Supreme Court, some New Mexico farmers have expressed concern. While the 2008 operating agreement "may not be perfect," they argue it does provide a guarantee that some of the river water can be used for New Mexico agriculture.

Some growers in southern New Mexico fear that King's lawsuit could result in a settlement that could favor Texas, making less water from the river available to New Mexico farmers.

In response to the Supreme Court's announcement this week, King says he was disappointed the high court didn't throw out the arguments presented by Texas officials, but said he hopes to convince the high court to dismiss the case. Failing that, he said he expects it could take years before any judgment is reached in the case.

If the high court fails to dismiss the case as King hopes, each state is allowed a maximum 120 days to file a new set of legal briefs on the issue as placed before the court by Texas officials.

 

Also of interest:

Texas faces water shortage without water plan

Mexico's water crisis may shed light on water treaty non-complian…

Red River water battle victory to Oklahoma