Water Law

Water Law

Montgomery & Andrews, P.A. has a long tradition of serving clients on water-related matters. One of our founders, J.O. Seth, served as New Mexico’s representative in the Rio Grande Compact negotiations with Texas and Colorado. Since that time, our lawyers have been involved in many of the important water law cases in New Mexico. We possess significant knowledge and experience in water law and regularly represent and advise private and public sector clients on a wide variety of water law matters in New Mexico and throughout the west. M&A provides legal representation to a broad range of public and private entities on water matters, including:

  • Acequias
  • Irrigators
  • Manufacturers
  • Mining operations
  • Ranchers
  • Oil and gas companies
  • Ski resorts
  • States and municipalities
  • Utilities
  • Water supply companies

Highlights of our water law practice include the following:

Interstate Water Disputes

M&A lawyers have in-depth expertise in the highly-specialized area of interstate water litigation before the United States Supreme Court. Our attorneys have continuously represented states in interstate water disputes in the original jurisdiction since 1990. We currently serve as counsel for three states in water cases before the Supreme Court: the State of Montana in Montana v. Wyoming & North Dakota, No. 137 Original, a dispute over the Yellowstone River Compact; the State of Kansas in Kansas v. Nebraska & Colorado, No. 126 Original, a case that seeks enforcement of a previous Supreme Court decree; and the State of New Mexico in Texas v. New Mexico & Colorado, No. 141 Original.

Our experience in original jurisdiction water litigation includes submission of more than 30 merits briefs to the Supreme Court, and more than 100 merits briefs to Supreme Court Special Masters. Our attorneys have engaged in more than 300 days of trial in original actions, argued three times before the Justices of the United States Supreme Court on water issues, assisted several attorneys general in preparing for oral argument, and engaged in two interstate arbitrations pursuant to a Supreme Court decree.

Water Administrative Proceedings

In New Mexico, the prior appropriation doctrine governs the right to take water for use in cities, industry and agriculture.  State Engineer approval is required to change the place or purpose of use and point of diversion of existing water rights, or to obtain new water rights.  Montgomery & Andrews has extensive experience in permit applications and proceedings before the State Engineer, including preparing and prosecuting applications and protests, performing historical and legal research, engaging and working with technical experts, negotiating with the State Engineer and other interested parties, and appeals.

Water Litigation

M&A’s lawyers have substantial experience in state and federal court litigation involving a broad range of water matters.  We have represented clients in litigation over water disputes in the United States Supreme Court, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, federal district courts, state appellate courts, and state trial courts, including multiple stream adjudication suits across the State of New Mexico.

Water Transactions

Our lawyers are experienced in handling the sale and lease of water rights, and have assisted clients in the acquisition of viable water supplies for new developments.  Our attorneys regularly perform due diligence analysis of water rights for real estate transactions.  We also have experience working closely with clients involved in water development projects to accomplish project goals.

Advice and Counseling

Through partnership with our clients, we strive to provide counseling to accomplish client water goals.  Attorneys at Montgomery & Andrews take a proactive approach in an attempt to help clients resolve potential regulatory issues.