What is in this article?:
• Water is once again rapidly running down the lower Rio Grande River — at least for the next few days — bringing some relief to parched South Texas cities and irrigation districts.
• But Texas and U.S. officials point out emergency release of waters upstream does not affect water owed by Mexico according to a treaty agreement.
• Meanwhile, pressure continues to build on U.S. officials who are being encouraged to step up the pressure on Mexico to secure the release of additional water.
More pressure on Mexico
Meanwhile, pressure continues to heat up over what some state and federal officials are calling Mexico’s water deficit.
Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein have joined a throng of state officials who are urging the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) and the U.S. State Department to compel Mexico to deliver Rio Grande system water to the United States.
According to the 1944 Treaty, Mexico must deliver an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water annually to the United States. Staples and Rubinstein say to date Mexico has withheld more than 430,000 acre-feet owed to the U.S., and the water deficit continues to grow, causing water suppliers across the Rio Grande Valley to run out of water.
In a press release last week, the Texas Department of Agriculture says in 2012 the IBWC was notified that millions of citizens in the Rio Grande Valley would face irreparable and catastrophic harm if Mexico did not immediately address the water deficit.
“Cameron County Irrigation District # 2, one of the Valley’s largest irrigation districts, has notified irrigation users that as of April 12 they are no longer taking orders for new water deliveries.
“Farmers in the district will only have access to water currently committed. This will have catastrophic consequences to crop yields in this district and may result in total crop losses in some instances. Because of the interconnected nature of the Valley’s water distribution system, cities and industrial water users have difficult time acquiring water when irrigation water is exhausted,” the release stated.
“We are facing an absolute water crisis right now and we need Mexico to deliver the water entitled to Texas and the United States,” Staples said. “We need a renewed commitment by our federal government to insist that Mexico release water belonging to the United States.”
The Commissioners says in a state as large and drought-prone as Texas, water is absolutely critical to the well-being of our citizens, industries and economic health.
“Since November, the State of Texas has repeatedly warned the IBWC, the U.S. State Department and Mexico water officials in face-to-face discussions that if the Mexico water deficit issue was not resolved, this situation would occur,” said Commissioner Rubinstein.
“Now it is occurring, thanks to our federal entities’ inability to secure a meaningful water delivery agreement. This is just the first domino falling, next we could see other irrigation districts running out of irrigation water, rising water prices…the State Department steps up their commitment to have Mexico comply with the water treaty and release water to Texas.”
Addressing the IBWC, Rubinstein said, “I look forward to receiving from you very soon a credible plan we can review and gain comfort in that actually and in a meaningful way addresses this situation. Conversely, continued delays by Mexico to commit to such a plan that in fact addresses the current deficit in a meaningful way now, speaks volumes about their commitment to actual future long term plans to prevent this situation going forward.”