EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Mexico has agreed to release more water into the Rio Grande for use by agriculture and other interests on the Texas side of the river, according to the international commission that arbitrates water-rights disputes between the two neighbors.
In a letter to South Texas congressman, the International Boundary and Water Commission says the Mexican government acceded during the past week to commission requests for more water from Rio Grande tributaries in Mexico.
This past week, in response to the commission's request "to increase deliveries from Mexican tributaries, the Mexican government initiated releases from a reservoir on the San Rodrigo River," U.S. Commissioner Edward Drusina said in a letter dated Friday.
Once the water reaches the Rio Grande, in accordance with a 1944 treaty between the United States and Mexico, one-third of the volume will be allotted to the United States.
"The Mexican government has also agreed to allow the United States to utilize excess Mexican water arriving in the Rio Grande from pre-identified Mexican tributaries, an arrangement that should increase deliveries to the United States during periods of precipitation," Drusina said.
Although pleased by the increased deliveries during rainy periods, "more is needed to address the existing water deficit and the immediate water needs of South Texas," the letter states.
Drusina said he and his staff continue to push for quicker, fuller action by Mexico. However, he said plans for new dams in Mexico's Rio Conchos basin raise new concerns "that the dams will have a significant impact on the water runoff to the Rio Grande and that the dams will make it more difficult for Mexico to fulfill the international water delivery obligations that are clearly expressed in the 1944 Water Treaty."
The letter came after U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, the Brownsville Democrat who is one of the congressmen to whom it was addressed, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, complained that the U.S. State Department and the water commission "don't give a damn about South Texas." The Brownsville Herald reported Vela's comment came after a State Department letter he received failed to mention if or when Mexico would deliver water to the United States as demanded by the treaty.