U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- Mexico will transfer thousands of acres of
water to the United States to end a long-standing feud that led U.S.
farmers to sue the country for failing to comply with a decade-old
water treaty, officials have said.
The agreement will end a 12-year-old dispute that has largely
affected Texas farmers over 733,000 acre feet of water that Mexico
owes the United States under a 1944 treaty.
Under the agreement, Mexico agreed to deliver 578,000 acre feet of
water to the United States by Sept. 30 and 470,000 acre-feet a year
over the next three years to keep current with the treaty, the
offices of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said.
"What this really signals is a fresh start and a fresh positive
start for relationships with our good friend and neighbor. The water
problem had, I think, soured our relationships," said Texas
Agriculture Secretary Susan Combs.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to announce the agreement
in Mexico. A State Department spokesman could not be immediately
reached for comment by the AP. Perry and Combs planned a simultaneous
announcement in Mission, Texas.
The agreement was worked out Feb. 18 and stems from meetings in
Washington and Texas between Mexican officials and the governor's
office. To end the dispute, Perry proposed Mexico pay the water debt
with water from other parts of that country rather than areas
designated in the treaty, according to information from Perry's
In November, Mexico said would be able to pay off its pending
water debt to the United States "in the next few years.
The 1944 water-sharing treaty requires Mexico to send the United
States an average of 350,000 acre feet of water annually from six Rio
Grande tributaries. The United States in return must send Mexico 1.5
million acre feet from the Colorado River.
Abundant rains in 2003 and 2004 largely replenished South Texas'
two Rio Grande reservoirs and allowed Mexico to reduce its water debt
from 1.5 million acre feet to less than 800,000 acre feet.
A group of Rio Grande Valley irrigators and farmers sued Mexico
under the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by Canada,
Mexico and the United States. They are seeking $500 million for crop
loss and damages they say were caused by Mexico failing to comply
with the treaty.
Mexico has owed water for the past decade. By the summer of 2002,
Rio Grande farmers were going out of business and municipal water
stores were running low while Mexican produce flowed into the state.
Texas and federal officials pressed the Bush administration to
make the debt a national priority.
Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Hutchison urged Rice to
press Mexico to pay off its water debt during her meeting in Mexico
with Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez.
Return to the
U.S. Water News' past 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.