Battle Over New Mexico Water Plan

New Mexico – A legal battle has erupted over whether state regulators can proceed with a hearing on a proposal by the Richardson administration that calls for giving special protection to hundreds of miles of rivers and streams, more than two dozen lakes and thousands of acres of wetlands.

The state Water Quality Control Commission was set to begin a four-day hearing Tuesday on a petition filed by the New Mexico Environment Department. The petition aims to designate bodies of water in wilderness areas across the state as so-called "outstanding national resource waters."

The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association obtained a temporary restraining order late Friday to keep the commission from moving forward.

The Environment Department countered Monday, asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to dissolve the order. A ruling is expected soon.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.