U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs
was recently meeting with White House staffers and other U.S.
officials, hoping they'll push Mexico to meet a looming deadline for
repaying a water debt to the United States.
``We plan to give them information they may not have and see what
our chances are of getting some significant releases of water,'' said
Combs, who said she has new data from the University of Texas Center
for Space Research.
It's Combs' second trip to Washington on behalf of Texas farmers,
who say they have suffered crop losses because of the water debt.
Oct. 2 is the deadline for Mexico to pay back about 1.5 million
acre-feet of water.
A 1944 treaty between the two countries obliges Mexico to transfer
350,000 acre-feet of water each year to the United States. But Mexico
has fallen behind, blaming drought.
The treaty allows for a five-year grace period. The current
five-year cycle ends for Mexico with the upcoming deadline.
The United States and Mexico reached an agreement in late June to
resolve the dispute. The deal includes a stipulation that the two
countries will invest jointly in water conversation measures.
It also called for the immediate release of 90,000 acre-feet of
water from the Falcon Reservoir, which is along the border west of
At the end of June, Mexico turned over to the United States 90,000
acre-feet of water stored in Falcon Reservoir, which jointly stores
U.S. and Mexico water, said Sally Spener, International Boundary and
Water Commission spokeswoman.
Combs was scheduled to meet with Ruben Barrales, director of the
White House Office for Intergovernmental Affairs, and officials from
the National Security Council, State Department and the International
Boundary and Water Commission.
Combs said Mexico has the water it needs to pay its debt.
``I believe there's already sufficient water stored in
Chihuahua,'' she said.
The United States and Mexico are developing a water payment plan
with Mexico, Spener said. She said most people who have looked at
Mexico's water storage believe it is unrealistic to expect Mexico to
deliver the 1.5 million acre feet at the beginning of next month.
Spener said the United States is working to have a plan in place
as soon as possible for Mexico to repay its debt.
Earlier in September, Mexico President Vicente Fox announced he
would invest $2.2 billion annually in new infrastructure and other
measures to help preserve shrinking water supplies -- especially in
the border region.
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