Texas and New Mexico argue over water resources from Colorado mountains

SANTA FE, N.M. - Top water officials from New Mexico, Colorado and Texas are indicating a willingness to work together as severe drought continues to hammer the region's water supplies.

Still, there was tension Thursday as officials with the Rio Grande Compact Commission gathered in Santa Fe for an annual meeting focused on management of the river. The Rio Grande supplies water to more than six million people, says the Texas-based International Boundary and Water Commission, as well as two million acres of cropland. 

New Mexico State Engineer Scott Verhines told his fellow commissioners he was disappointed the fight over the lower Rio Grande continues.

Texas and New Mexico are in the middle of a legal battle before the U.S. Supreme Court over the Rio Grande. Texas officials say they're trying to defend their water rights as New Mexico pumps groundwater that might otherwise flow to farmland in Texas.

It could be years before the court makes a decision in the case, but some experts say it could set precedent when it comes to state rights in the drought-stricken West.

The Rio Grande river originates from the San Juan mountains and the national forests in southwest Colorado, splits into two streams in New Mexico and flows through Texas and into Mexico. The Texas Water Development Board expects use of the water to increase by 100 percent by 2060.

The Colorado River also originates in the Rocky Mountain State and supplies drinking water to about 30 million people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Colorado River provides electricity for hydroelectric plants and irrigation for four million acres of crops.

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