KOAT-TV.com - SANTA FE, N.M. —Lawmakers are trying to stop what they call an illegal deal made by a former New Mexico governor regarding water, and the case might make its way to the state Supreme Court. “Water is life,” said Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe. “Every year (the situation) seems to be getting more and more dire.”
In 2010, Gov. Bill Richardson signed a contract with the Navajo Nation. The contract agrees to give huge amounts of New Mexico’s water to the tribe. The water comes from the same source that reaches the Rio Grande and provides water for places like Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
“There are many people who are affected here, and as we all know, this drought situation that we're in, we don't know what the new norm is,” said Trujillo. Lawmakers are saying the contract is invalid and illegal because the Legislature didn’t pass it, which legislators say is their constitutional right.
“Make sure we get this process correct,” said Trujillo. “This is to preserve the people's voice, their right.” Lawmakers are asking the Supreme Court to ban the state engineer from giving away the water.
Instead they want the Legislature to be able to vet, debate and vote on an agreement with the Navajo Nation. Richardson disagrees with the arguments in the lawsuit. He said he didn’t need the Legislature’s approval for the contract.
Lawmakers make it clear that they are not opposed to an agreement with the Navajo Nation. They just want to be able to control the deal. The state engineer said the Legislature has supported the settlement by appropriating money over the years and as a result is providing safe, clean water in homes. More