New Mexico Lawmakers Sue Over Water Settlement

May 14, 2014

Three legislators and a northwestern New Mexico farmer are asking the state's highest court to nullify an agreement between the state, the federal government and the Navajo Nation settling tribal rights to water from the San Juan River.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in the state Supreme Court contends the settlement must be approved by the Legislature to take effect because it's the equivalent of a tribal-state compact.

Republican legislators Steve Neville and Paul Bandy and Democrat Carl Trujillo brought the lawsuit with irrigator Jim Rogers against state water agencies.

Former Gov. Bill Richardson signed the settlement in 2010, and a district court approved it in 2013.

A Navajo Nation Department of Justice lawyer said the tribe hadn't seen the lawsuit but would oppose any challenge to the water settlement's validity.

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