For decades, most of the waters of the State of New Mexico have been the subject of water rights adjudications to establish all the water rights. Stream systems and sub-basins geographically define the adjudications. There are twelve active cases. However, complete adjudication of all New Mexico water rights is still many years away. Meanwhile, water use in the state has evolved.New water users increasingly look to acquire existing water rights rather than developing new rights. Decisions on administration, distribution, and redistribution of water have to be made.

It was widely held, though not unanimously, that the State Engineer needed greater authority to administer water rights until the courts’ adjudication of rights was complete. In 2013, most of the state experienced extreme drought. A call for priority administration was made on the Pecos River, surface and groundwater water shortages were felt throughout the state, Texas sued New Mexico in the United States Supreme Court over Rio Grande Compact deliveries, and the New Mexico Legislature’s Interim Water and Natural Resources Committee activated a Drought Sub-committee.

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2008, updated 2013 by Gregory C. Ridgley. Contributor: DL Sanders.



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