U.S. Water News Online
AUSTIN -- The United States should consider stopping the
flow of water to Mexico from the Colorado River if the southern
neighbor continues to lag behind in its water-sharing obligations
under a 1944 treaty, Gov. Rick Perry said.
Mexico's mounting water debt has created serious problems for
Texas farmers in the border region, Perry said.
``Diplomacy for all these many years does not appear to have
worked,'' Perry said after speaking to a group of water planners at
the Water 2025 Conference. ``There comes a time when we must take
further steps. If Mexico continues to refuse to live up to the
obligations, the United States should consider turning off the tap,''
Perry also renewed his pitch for a desalination project to use
water from the Gulf of Mexico for agricultural and human consumption
as well as conservation projects to preserve fresh water resources.
The 1944 water sharing treaty stipulates 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.
``I can assure you the farmers in the valley are past
frustration,'' Perry said. ``They see their livelihood impacted
negatively as produce is coming out of the Chihuahua area irrigated
by their water. This is a double whammy for Texas agricultural
The idea of plugging the flow of water to Mexico was pitched by
state Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs last year. But the state's
power on the issue is limited to pleading for federal help.
``That's a recommendation,'' Perry said. ``I think that is one
option they could use to force Mexico to live up to the treaty.''
Just how the U.S. would withhold the water is another question. A
diversionary pipeline probably would cost billions of dollars and
take years to build. It also would involve a quagmire of rules and
regulations from seven basin states, each of which have their own
layer of interest in the river.
``I know there has been talk about possibly reducing the flow of
water to Mexico, but I don't think anybody's ever really looked at
how it would be done,'' said Bob Walsh, spokesman for the federal
Bureau of Reclamation. United States officials have continued talks
with Mexico to try to get the water flowing.
Miguel Monterrubio, spokesman for the Mexican embassy in
Washington, said his country has met its obligations under the treaty
during Mexican President Vicente Fox's administration.
``We have delivered the minimum annual average required by the
treaty,'' Monterrbio said. ``It's in the spirit of cooperation and
not through mutual recriminations that advances are being made.''
Last month, U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz said Geronimo Gutierrez,
Mexican undersecretary of foreign affairs for North America, promised
his country would meet its scheduled water payments for 2003 and
Ortiz, who has called on the Bush administration to withhold water
from Mexico, said Gutierrez also promised Mexico would begin to pay
off its accumulated water debt.
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