U.S. Water News Online
HARLINGEN, Texas -- In an agreement signed in El Paso,
Mexico has guaranteed that a third of the water conserved by
irrigation projects in the state of Chihuahua will be sent to
Sally Spener, a spokeswoman for the International Boundary and
Water Commission, said that Minute 309 followed through on last
summer's Minute 308, in which Mexico agreed to transfer 90,000 acre
feet of water from Falcon Lake reservoir to the U.S. She said the
recent agreement also allows for U.S. inspections of the projects.
Both pacts are amendments to a 1944 water sharing treaty
stipulating that the U.S. and Mexico share water from the Rio Grande
and Colorado River. Mexico has not been meeting its commitment to
send the U.S. 350,000 acre feet annually and now owes the U.S. 1.4
million acre feet.
South Texas farmers were outraged to hear the June 2002 agreement
also called for millions of dollars to be sent to Mexico to better
The $40 million in funds were to come from the North American
Development Bank, a binational fund.
NADBank recently announced recipients for the U.S.'s matching $40
million, which is being divided among a long list of cities,
irrigation districts and other entities in Texas. California, Arizona
and New Mexico.
Mexico is expected to be able to send the U.S. 107,014 acre feet
of saved water annually once the projects are completed in about
three years, Spener said, which is about a third of the 321,043 acre
feet engineers expect their project to conserve.
That complies with treaty language saying that a third of the
water from the Rio Grande tributaries in Chihuahua, including the
Conchos River, belong to the U.S.
But releases of saved water may start as early as January, Spener
``What this does is enhance Mexico's ability to deliver the water
that is required under the treaty,'' she said.
State Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs said she was
``cautiously optimistic'' about the news.
``We keep waiting and I think that the reason we got this far is
because we refused to budge until they gave us something,'' she said.
She said she was concerned that there was still no plan to pay
back the debt.
``It's as though it's this large elephant in the room that no
one's looking at,'' she said.
A Texas A&M study concluded that the lack of water is costing
the Rio Grande Valley and its farmers $1 billion.
Congress last fall authorized $10 million in relief for South
Texas farmers, but Combs said that was only a drop in the bucket.
``It's about $21 an acre for the farmer when they've all lost
about $275 an acre,'' she said. ``So it's really not getting them a
Citrus farmer Jimmie Steidinger agreed, quickly calculating that
his share of the saved water would at best allow him to water five
``It's just a thing to give them a little bit and hope they shut
up, if you ask me,'' he said. ``I want to be neighbors but what it
comes down to is killing the growers in the Valley.''
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.