Mar 10, 2005

Mexico, U.S. to Reach Agreement on Water Debt

Mexico and the U.S. have reached an agreement over water that Texas has claimed its southern neighbor owes under a decades-old treaty, said congressional and state sources, according to an Associated Press report.
The report said that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice plans to announce Mexico's agreement to pay its water debt by Sept. 30. However, it is not yet known whether it would be a full or partial repayment.
At the end of last year, Mexico said it plans to pay off its pending water debt to the U.S. in the next few years.
A 1944 water-sharing treaty requires Mexico to send the U.S. an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water annually from six Rio Grande tributaries. The U.S. in return must send Mexico 1.5 million acre feet from the Colorado River, the Associated Press reported.
Rains in 2003 and 2004 largely replenished South Texas' two Rio Grande reservoirs and allowed Mexico to reduce its water debt from 1.5 million acre-feet to less than 800,000 acre-feet.
According to the report, Mexico has owed water for the past decade. By the summer of 2002, Rio Grande farmers were going out of business and municipal water stores were running low while Mexican produce flowed into the state.
As a result, Texas and federal officials pressed the Bush administration to make the debt a national priority.