The justices Monday turned aside the appeal of the Texas Water Development Board and the city of Dallas of the ruling of U.S.District Judge Jorge Solis of Dallas. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans previously upheld the ruling.
The river runs 416 miles through eastern Texas, from eastern Van Zandt County southeast to its mouth on Sabine Lake near Port Arthur. Dallas wanted to dam the river's headwaters and create a lake to supplement its water supply.
However, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge along the upper reaches of the Neches in 2006. The state and city sued the federal government, alleging it established the refuge without considering environmental and economic effects on north Texas.