Court Ruling Limits NM Water Management Powers

New Mexico – A top state water official says a recent court ruling will limit New Mexico's ability to manage water use when there's severe drought.

State Engineer John D'Antonio said Monday a state Court of Appeals decision will make it more difficult for his office to curtail water use by those who don't have the highest priority water rights.

The court last week invalidated part of the regulations adopted by the state engineer's office, saying they improperly expanded the agency's powers.

Under the ruling, the state engineer's regulations for enforcing priority water rights can be used only where there's a court adjudication of water rights or when licenses have been issued for water rights.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.