At the same time Texas is fighting to get water from Oklahoma, state officials want to block Mexico from pumping water out of the Rio Grande.
On the state’s north border, the ongoing legal battle between the Tarrant Regional Water District and Oklahoma may have piqued the interest of the U.S. Supreme Court, which asked the U.S. solicitor general to weigh in on the case Monday.
The Supreme Court only asks the solicitor general get involved twelve times a year, and the high court generally decides to hear about 34 percent of those cases, compared to the one percent of all cases appealed to it each year, Bill Hanna reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The lawsuit has been winding its way through the courts since 2007. The water district seeks to pump 130 billion gallons of water out of Oklahoma river basins, citing the Red River Compact that decrees Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana are each entitled to an “‘equitable apportionment of water’ from the Red River and its tributaries,” Hanna wrote.
The four states agreed to the compact and congress signed off on it in 1980. But in 2009, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law that barred other states from siphoning up Oklahoma’s water without the legislature’s blessing.
“We will ask the United States to urge the court to hold Oklahoma to its agreement that Texas is entitled to 25 percent of the Red River water,” Kevin Patrick, an attorney for the water district, told Hanna.
Meanwhile, Texas is grumbling over Mexico taking water out of the Rio Grande. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein issued a press release Wednesday taking issue with the International Boundary and Water Commission’s decision to give from the Rio Grande to Mexico, which is suffering its own severe drought.
“In the wake of the worst one-year drought in Texas history, we are asking this federal commission, run by an appointee of President Obama, to act immediately to rescind this devastating decision,” Staples said in the release. ”Sending water to Mexico at a time when Texas reserves are extremely vulnerable further jeopardizes our water resources and jobs here at home.”
The IBWC’s decision would send millions of gallons of water from the Rio Grande to Mexico, a move Staples said would “disrupt the strategic plans Texas and New Mexico water users have put in place to address drought; wastes water; and sets a dangerous precedent of catering to Mexico’s demands for water.”