In the continuing conflict over water resources between two neighboring Southwest states, for example, officials from Texas filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court last week in its dispute with New Mexico over water rights of the Rio Grande. The people and governments of three states and two nations have stake in water from the river, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) says New Mexico is violating the 1938 Rio Grande Compact that governs how water is shared by Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. In a statement announcing the legal action, TCEQ Commissioner Carlos Rubenstein called the action unfortunate but necessary.

“It is unfortunate that we have had to resort to legal action, but negotiations with New Mexico have been unsuccessful, and Texas is not getting the water that it is allocated and legally entitled to,” Rubinstein said.

Texas and New Mexico have been squabbling over the water of the Rio Grande since 2008. According to complaints filed by Texas officials, they are charging New Mexico water officials with failure to control groundwater pumping in the Rio Grande River basin south of Elephant Butte Reservoir, which has reduced surface water flow in the river as it makes it way to the Texas-New Mexico border. The complaint claims such action prevents Texas farmers and municipalities who depend on the water, including the City of El Paso, from receiving their allocated rights to the valuable resource.

Officials from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office have responded by accusing Texas of what they term “water rustling.”

Water concerns in both southern New Mexico and Far West Texas have been increasing in recent years as high demand for water resources escalates, driven by both urban growth and agricultural demands. Southern New Mexico is a noted agricultural center responsible for one of the nation’s largest concentrations of pecan production and also home to the state’s large chile production. The region also has high concentrations of cattle ranches.