U.S. Water News Online
WESLACO, Texas -- Mexico is on track to pay almost half of
its outstanding water debt to the United States by the end of the
2004 fiscal year, an official with the International Boundary and
Water Commission told Rio Grande irrigators.
Carlos Marin, deputy commissioner of the binational commission,
said Mexico had by Jan. 10 made the average annual payment required
under a 1944 treaty and thanks to bountiful rainfall was continuing
to transfer water to the U.S. The treaty stipulates that the United
States and Mexico share water from the Rio Grande and Colorado River.
``We figure that by the end of the cycle year there should be an
additional 400,000 to 500,000 acre feet,'' Marin said. The water debt
is currently 1.2 million acre feet.
Marin said some Mexican reservoirs were so full a hurricane would
pose a severe flooding threat to the Rio Grande Valley.
However, those reservoirs are not in the northern tributaries
specified in the treaty. However some Valley irrigators were
concerned the water was coming from rain overflows, rather than from
Mexico's stores in northern reservoirs.
The South Texans contend Mexico is hoarding the water to irrigate
its own crops and ignoring the water treaty.
The water debt was discussed as the IBWC held its fifth
``citizens' forum'' since the severe drought conditions in deep South
Texas turned Mexico's decade-old debt into a crisis. Some farmers
went out of business while others burned groves or held back on
planting to conserve water.
Marin also gave an update on an extensive anti-terrorism study
ordered by the federal government following the Sept. 11, 2001,
He said a team of U.S. and Mexican officials had identified 400
possible targets along the shared river and dams, mostly involving
ways to contaminate the water.
While technology might not be able to decipher every foreign
substance in the water, quality monitors could be put in place to at
least detect if something were wrong, Marin said.
An initial $25 million has been spent, much of it to help Mexico
The Rio Grande is the sole water source for millions of people in
both Mexico and the U.S.
``We can't protect just half the dam,'' he said.
The implementation plan would cost about $40.6 million, yet there
was no word on when or if the money would be approved.
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