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The nation's highest court will likely have to settle a dispute between Texas and New Mexico over management of water from the Rio Grande.
 
Officials in both states have been waiting for nearly a year for a recommendation on the handling of the case that could dramatically curb groundwater pumping in some of New Mexico's most fertile valleys and force the state to pay as much as $1 billion in damages.

Now, a special master assigned by the U.S. Supreme Court is recommending the rejection of a motion by New Mexico to dismiss the case, meaning it can move forward as long as the high court agrees.

Texas sued in 2013, claiming New Mexico failed to deliver water as required under a decades-old compact involving the river that serves more than 6 million people in several major cities and irrigates more than 3,100 square miles of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.

New Mexico state Sen. Joe Cervantes, whose district includes the border region, said the special master's recommendation was not a surprise, and that he and a small group of lawmakers have been warning about potentially dire outcomes if Texas gains the upper hand in the legal battle.

Cervantes said the recommendation to let the case proceed seems to support demands by Texas for more water from the Rio Grande.


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