Mexico Owes The United States Billions Of Gallons Of Water. And It’s Not The First Time.

Based on a 1944 water treaty, the United States is entitled to a portion of the water arriving in the Rio Grande from Mexican tributaries, during a five-year cycle.

By Joy DiazJuly 28, 2020 3:51 pm,

A 1944 international treaty requires Mexico to deliver a certain amount of water to the United States in five-year cycles. The current cycle ends in a few months and Mexico is behind by billions of gallons of water. So this month, the International Boundary and Water Commission wrote a letter urging Mexico to rush the delivery

The U.S. secretary for the commission, Sally Spener, told Texas Standard’s Joy Díaz that Mexico has been delivering water over the past five years, but they are running out of time. 

“Really, it’s not appropriate to wait,” Spener said. “Mexico needs to be more proactive in taking action right now.”

The two countries share access to the Rio Grande and, based on this almost 80-year-old agreement, the United States is entitled to a portion of the water arriving in the river from Mexican tributaries. 

“The challenge that we have right now is that some of that water is in Mexican reservoirs, in Mexico, and is not flowing into the Rio Grande,” Spener said.

This is the second cycle in a row that Mexico has fallen behind on their commitment. For the 2010 to 2015 cycle, the country ended with a debt and had to make it up after the cycles’ end.

“You may not end two, consecutive five-year-cycles with a debt. That’s not the way international agreements work. So Mexico does need to end the current cycle without a debt,” Spener said. 

According to Spener, the commission is not considering treaty renegotiations. But they are urging Mexico to increase the releases from those dams, so the water can flow into the Rio Grande, and meet the treaty obligations.

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