This is your Friday update, which takes a quick look at the week ahead and some developments that El Paso Matters is following.
Texas-New Mexico Water Settlement: Texas and New Mexico have reached a “settlement in principle” in a nine-year old lawsuit over Rio Grande water, U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Melloy announced Tuesday. He said significant “drafting, approval, legislative and regulatory steps” are still needed to finalize the agreement, which has been in the works since March. Melloy, who the U.S. Supreme Court appointed to oversee the case, pushed back the scheduled October trial to give the states time to negotiate the settlement. The lawsuit stems from Texas’ allegation that southern New Mexico’s groundwater pumping denies Texas its full share of water under the 1938 Rio Grande Compact. The two states will update Melloy on any settlement progress at a hearing later this month. If no final agreement is reached, Melloy could set a new trial date.
Fabens Wastewater Connections: Two neighborhoods with about 300 residents near Fabens now have wastewater service. The Lower Valley Water District, El Paso County and the Texas Department of Agriculture funded the $3 million project to get wastewater into the homes in the Lourdes and Conquistador communities on North Loop Drive near Fabens. Construction began in June 2021 and was completed this week. The work also included decommissioning existing on-site septic facilities. These communities were originally developed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s without access to water and sewer service. The communities were connected to water in 2012.
Walmart Shooter Prosecuting Grant: The $3 million grant the El Paso District Attorney’s office received from the state a month ago to cover the costs of investigating and prosecuting the alleged Walmart shooter is being split into two grants. On Monday’s El Paso County Commissioners Court agenda, the court is being asked by El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales to accept a $1.89 million grant to cover the expenses associated with the state case. The other half of the grant, about $1.1 million, is expected to be awarded at a later date and will be used to cover the costs associated with a change of venue, if needed. The grant will cover expenses from May 1, 2022 through April 2023. No trial date has been set yet in the state case, though Rosales has publicly said she hopes the trial will take place in summer 2023.