U.S. Water News Online
HARLINGEN, Texas -- Mexico has signed over some 268,000
acre feet of water from two binational Rio Grande reservoirs,
eliminating over half of its long-standing water debt to the United
States, Texas officials said.
The transfers were made less than two weeks after Gov. Rick Perry
and other state officials announced that Mexico had agreed to pay
"every drop" of a debt that had been chilling relations between South
Texas and Mexico.
A 1944 treaty dictates that Mexico and the United States share
water from the Rio Grande and Colorado River. But Mexico began
falling behind on its releases of Rio Grande water as a drought set
in 12 years ago, and by 2002 Texas farmers were struggling.
Kathleen Hartnett White, chairwoman of the Texas Commission on
Environmental Quality, said the transfers signaled "Mexico's sincere
intentions to meet its future obligations to retire the debt on time
and on schedule."
She said more than 210,000 acre feet had been transferred from the
Amistad Reservoir north of Del Rio and more than 56,000 acre feet had
been transferred from Falcon Lake reservoir in Zapata County.
At one point, Mexico owed 1.2 million acre feet.
By the announcement of an agreement, abundant rains had allowed
Mexico to pay the debt down to 733,000 acre feet. The agreement gave
Mexico credit for 155,000 acre feet.
"Let there be no doubt, the water is under our control and on our
way to Rio Grande Valley growers, ranchers, farmers and residents,"
White's agency oversees the water rights program, which controls
usage of U.S. water from the Rio Grande and other waterways.
Carlos Rubinstein, the Rio Grande watermaster, said that the
transfers increased U.S. holdings in the reservoirs by 8.1 percent.
While pleased to be assured water for upcoming growing seasons,
some Rio Grande Valley farmers say they fear that Mexico will
continue to pay the water only when it rains.
"We have to recognize that right now everything is rosy, but the
long-term problem is still going to be there," said Wayne Halbert,
manager of the Harlingen Irrigation District. "Mexico doesn't have a
plan for meeting the terms of the treaty on a regular basis. They're
still in the mode, 'We'll look and see each year.' When things look
bad, they're going to say, 'We don't have the water.' When things are
flooding, they're going to say, 'Well look here, we're the good
Cristobal Jaime Jaquez, general director of Mexico's National
Water Commission, said recently that his country has opened state
water utilities to some private investment and is curbing excess
demand and modernizing dams to use water more efficiently.
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.