U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- A panel of experts that studied Rio Grande
water issues for six months said water conflicts should be considered
as important to national security as oil, but it fell short of
offering a solution for the United States' ongoing water dispute with
The panel offered a string of proposals for medium- and long-range
management of the Rio Grande, known as the Rio Bravo in Mexico, in a
The ideas ranged from using Web-based technology to offer more
information on water supplies to creating a U.S.-Mexico water bank
where water is bought and sold by ``wet'' and ``dry'' regions at
All were intended to raise priority of managing water supplies as
a policy issue for the administrations of President Bush and Mexico
President Vicente Fox.
But members of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Council, which issued
the report, refused to say how the two nations should resolve the
ongoing water dispute between U.S. farmers and Mexico. The U.S.
farmers say Mexico owes the United States 1.5 million acre feet,
about 500 billion gallons, of water under a 1944 water treaty.
Al Zapanta, U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce president, said the
countries can resolve the water debt dispute if they ``get away from
the past,'' shift focus from the 1944 treaty to the future and ``not
get caught up in history.''
He said he was not saying the water debt should be forgiven, but
added ``we need to go beyond the treaty.''
Under a 1944 U.S.-Mexico water treaty, Mexico is to release an
annual average of 350,000 acre-feet, about 114 billion gallons of
water, in cycles of five years to the United States. But some U.S.
officials, particularly officials from Texas, say Mexico has not met
its treaty obligation over several years.
Mexico disputes it owes water and says it is in compliance with
the treaty. Mexican officials say their water supplies have been
impacted by extreme drought.
In mid-January, State Department officials announced that Mexico
had agreed to release at least 350,000 acre-feet of water by
September this year. But Texas government officials criticized the
agreement because it did nothing to resolve the water debt.
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