WICHITA FALLS, Texas - Drought and a subsequent water shortage have led to a squabble among neighbors.
Texas, the big kid on the block, is duking it out in court with smaller neighbors Oklahoma and New Mexico. At stake from the Texas perspective is water crucial to meeting the demands of an already huge and still-growing population.
For Oklahoma and New Mexico, it's perceived as keeping what is rightfully theirs.
It is the water in the Red River that is the subject of great contention between Texas and Oklahoma. It's a fight that has been fought in numerous courts and now is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.
At issue is the Tarrant Regional Water District, which is trying to secure water for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the largest population center in the South -- and still growing.
The Texas factor claims the Lone Star State is entitled to a share of the Red's water because of an agreement called the Red River Compact, which was enacted in 1978 to prevent bickering among states over the Red's water -- just the kind of bickering that's happening right now.
The Oklahoma factor believes they're abiding by state law in not releasing water to Texas.
The Texans yell foul, claiming water from the Red flows into its Oklahoma tributaries and feeds the numerous lakes in the southeastern part of that state in sparsely populated areas that don't really need all that water.
In fact, the Texans say, much of that precious water is released to flow unused into the Gulf of Mexico.
So far, Texas, the big kid, has found itself on the ropes in this fight.
Trial courts and appellate courts have repeatedly sided with Oklahoma. Now the final round is set for the Supreme Court, which agreed in January to hear the case.
Meanwhile, Texas fights a two-front war; Texas has sued New Mexico, claiming that state is withholding too much water from the Rio Grande based on agreements in a 1938 compact.
Not so, says New Mexico. That state's attorney general has gone so far as to call Texans "water rustlers."
Other states are keeping wary eyes on the upcoming Supreme Court decision because the Red River Wars of the 21st century could have a huge impact on the many other water compacts across the nation.
It's shaping up to be a herculean fight.
And a river runs through it.
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