New Mexico's highest court is allowing the state's top water manager to decide proposed water rights transfers to increase flows in the drought-stricken Pecos River.
The state Supreme Court ruled Monday the state engineer's office can move ahead with an administrative hearing on a proposal to transfer water rights to allow more pumping of groundwater near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico. The water will go by pipeline into a reservoir to boost river flows.
The justices rejected arguments by a ranching family that State Engineer Scott Verhines has a conflict of interest in deciding the water proposal by the Interstate Stream Commission.
The Supreme Court tossed out an Eddy County district court judge ruling that stopped the state engineer from holding a hearing, which now will start in June.