management focus of Utton Center
unites experts to create model interstate compact
a flurry of litigation in the region surrounding water rights
and the endangered silvery minnow, UNM Research Professor of
Law Marilyn OLeary makes a case for staying out of court.
is not the best way to resolve these issues. Its too narrow.
You dont have all the people at the table and all the
information that you need, OLeary said. Legal
decisions are basically a snapshot in time based on laws and
legal claims we have today. When things change we have to go
back and try to change a court decree and that can be very difficult.
years experience in water and public utility law, OLeary
joined the UNM School of Law in 2001 to direct its Utton Transboundary
Resources Center, which she promotes as having both a mission
and a message.
is to use multidisciplinary expertise and preventive diplomacy
to help stakeholders avoid litigation over water and create
sustainable water management plans. The message is: Were
not going to solve these water issues as individuals. We need
to look at not only what we want, but what is good for us all,
in 2000 to carry on work related to transboundary resource issues
initiated by UNM Professor of Law Albert E. Utton, the center
is positioned to be a model for the rest of the country and
even the world, OLeary said.
states, cities, counties and tribes struggle with issues related
to resource boundaries. The center fosters conversations that
help stakeholders go beyond their stated positions on water
allocations, she said.
the center hosted its first national conference to address interstate
surface and ground water issues. Invited were national experts
in law, biology, hydrology, economics and social science, among
other fields. The meeting kicked off a five-year process that
will result in a model interstate water compact.
wanted to break down barriers between science and law so we
can work together more effectively and pool our knowledge on
water issues. Lawyers had been looking to scientists for the
answers and scientists were looking to lawyers. But they were
not to be found. The answers will come from us working together,
interstate water compacts do not take into account emerging
issues such as severe drought and diminished water supply, endangered
species and lack of tribal allocations.
conference will be organized to address cultural aspects and
unite stakeholders across the board, including irrigators and
city, tribal and acequia representatives.
need to address the different cultures of water that exist in
this state what water means to the different entities
represented, OLeary said.
is a developing resource for the New Mexico State Engineer and
Interstate Stream Commission. OLeary also collaborates
on projects with campus entities such as the Water Resources
are also interested in working with other institutions in the
state and additional UNM departments working on water issues,
is working with Sandia National Laboratories facilitating use
of a lab-created water budget computer model by the Middle Rio
Grande Water Assembly, the regional planning group for the middle
valley. Celina Jones, law student and trained hydrologist, coordinated
the centers work.
need to address the different cultures of water that exist
in this state what water means to the different entities
is our goal to involve students in all aspects of our work whenever
we can. It is a unique experience to be part of multidisciplinary
efforts to solve critical water problems, OLeary
will sponsor a speakers series open to the public at the
School of Law this fall featuring water experts from the state
appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson to the New Mexico/Chihuahua
Border Commission, OLeary will also lobby for increased
binational planning related to water supply and quality.