SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico and the two other states that share the Canadian River filed a proposed settlement Friday of the lawsuit that began when New Mexico enlarged Ute Reservoir.
The proposed settlement was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, and its approval is likely since all of the parties and the Canadian River special master have approved it, said New Mexico State Engineer Eluid Martinez.
The settlement requires New Mexico to pay Oklahoma and Texas $200,000 each for legal fees, and to release more water from Ute Reservoir. But Martinez said the "favorable" settlement of the case represents a financial achievement.
"This is a markedly different approach to resolving differences between the states on these rivers, versus litigation," Martinez said.
In 1990, the Supreme Court ordered New Mexico to pay Texas $14 million in damages for holding back Pecos River water that should have flowed downstream to West Texas.
Texas Attorney General Dan Morales called the agreement a victory for the Texas Panhandle.
"New Mexico was taking our water for their recreational use, while 460,000 Texans rely on that water for farming, municipal and industrial needs," he said.
Oklahoma and Texas sued New Mexico in 1987 after the Ute Reservoir, near Logan, was enlarged with water that had spilled over upstream Conchas Dam.
New Mexico claimed the spillover because the compact lets New Mexico keep all the runoff above Conchas Dam and 200,000 acre-feet of water in Ute Reservoir. The Supreme Court ruled against New Mexico in 1991.
Under the agreement, New Mexico will immediately release 20,000 acre-feet of water, lowering the reservoir to 200,000 acre-feet. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 541113