Bureau of Reclamation Banner, Upper Colorado Region
Reclamation Home              Reclamation Offices              Newsroom              Library              Projects & Facilities

Pecos River Settlement Agreement

photo: Reclamation Upper Colorado Regional Director speaks at ceremony
Reclamation Upper Colorado Regional
Director speaks at ceremony

The successful resolution of a long-time water delivery issue between New Mexico and Texas was commemorated at a September 9, 2009, ceremony hosted by the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (NMISC) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Reclamation along with state and local officials and water managers participated in the ceremony to mark the joint declaration and implementation of the historic Pecos River Settlement Agreement. 

Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Regional Director Larry Walkoviak was among those in attendance. "This is a significant milestone for all parties to the settlement," Walkoviak said. "This was a difficult task that required a willingness to work together. We remain committed to working with all of our partners on the Pecos to continue in this positive direction.”

The settlement agreement is the result of a consensus plan reached in 2002 by the Carlsbad Irrigation District (CID), the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District (PVACD), Reclamation and the state of New Mexico to identify strategies for increasing water availability so New Mexico could meet its water delivery obligations to Texas under the 1947 Pecos River Compact. The consensus plan outlined key elements to accomplish this including the purchase of land and retirement of associated water rights, augmenting Pecos River flows by pumping well water and conveying it via pipeline to the river, and reducing the potential for water rights administration by priority.

The consensus plan was provided to the New Mexico State Legislature in 2002 for funding. However, the legislature first required the settlement of water rights issues involved in the Pecos River General Stream Adjudication in which water rights claims by the CID and Reclamation were being contested by PVACD.

In March of 2003, the parties achieved resolution and the landmark settlement agreement was finally reached. In addition to the key settlement terms outlined in the consensus plan, the final settlement also identified operational elements necessary for delivery of water downstream through Carlsbad Project reservoirs to the Texas state line and further provisions to ensure a more reliable water supply to CID farmers. 

Full implementation of the settlement agreement has taken more than six years of effort by the NMISC. Among the obligations they were required to fulfill are: acquisition of a minimum of 4,500 water right acres of land in the CID (of which they have acquired 4,498); acquisition of a minimum of 7,500 water right acres in the PVACD (of which they have acquired 7,248); and development of 15,750 acre-feet of augmentation pumping capacity (which has been developed through two augmentation well fields capable of delivering 15,750 acre-feet of water to Brantley Reservoir).

The significant accomplishment toward these requirements was marked by the joint declaration that was filed with the Fifth Judicial District Court in June signifying agreement among all parties that the conditions for implementation are being met. The effects of the settlement agreement are already apparent in the 98,500 acre-foot water credit accrued by New Mexico for water deliveries to Texas.

For more information: New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission


Last updated: September 24, 2009