For over 35 years, Albert E. Utton served the citizens of New Mexico as a distinguished member of the University of New Mexico School of Law, a twenty-year member of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, a valued advisor to the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, a worldwide authority on transboundary resources issues, and a lifelong friend of the New Mexico Water Community.
Al joined the UNM Faculty of Law in 1962 and remained a member of the faculty until his death in 1998. He taught in the areas of administrative law, environmental law, and international law and was a significant figure in New Mexico water law and policy. His many students remember his humor and animated lectures.
Early in his career at the Law School, he became Editor-in-Chief of the internationally renowned Natural Resources Journal. He was also director of the Natural Resources Center at the Law School. Al wrote and published over twenty books and monographs and authored numerous articles, which have been published in law reviews and journals around the world.
Over the last twenty years, Al focused his considerable talents and energy on international transboundary resource issues. He served as a consultant and conference participant on transboundary resource issues in North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Among the many awards he received over the years, one particularly significant award was made in 1997 by the Mexican Government: the Aztec Eagle Award “the highest honor given by Mexico to a noncitizen for service to Mexico and to Humanity.”
From 1976 to1996, Al was a member of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, a body of which he was proud. He served as chairperson for nearly ten years. According to his colleague on the ISC, J. Phelps White, Al loved the diversity of the Commission and the staff. While Al’s expertise in the law was paramount, perhaps his even greater contribution was in “conflict resolution.” “It was uncanny how he could get opposing sides to sit together and sort out their differences,” says White.
Since the late 1960s, Al served the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute in several capacities. He was a member of WRRI’s Program Development and Review Board from 1969 to 1987, where his insights and advice were always thoughtful and well received. Al also served on the Water Conference Advisory Committee from 1983 until 1998 and attended nearly every water conference since the early 1970s.
In recognition of Al’s service to the New Mexico Water Community and to those he served worldwide, the Water Resources Research Institute has established the Albert E. Utton Memorial Water Lecture Fund. The Fund will provide financial support to speakers who are specially selected to give a lecture at WRRI’s Annual New Mexico Water Conferences. We think Al would be pleased to know that his interests and ideals are being pursued through this lecture series.