Border Water Battle Brewing On The Rio Grande
State officials are crying foul over the decision by a binational commission to release water from the Rio Grande to Mexico.
Water from the Rio Grande has been dispersed to U.S. and Mexican farmers for more than a century under a treaty signed by both countries.
But facing a crop loss to the tune of $8 billion due to extreme drought, Texas officials asked for a delay in the scheduled annual spring water release to Mexico.
The International Boundary and Water Commission denied the request.
“The deliveries that we are making to Mexico are consistent with that schedule,” said Sally Spener, U.S. spokeswoman for the commission.
“We believe that the treaty is being applied appropriately. We have a responsibility to deliver water to Mexico under the treaty and that’s what we’re doing,” Spener said.
But Texas officials countered by accusing the commission of putting Mexico’s interests above theirs — hurting American farmers in the process.
“The IBWC did this release against the advice and request of Texas. They did it too early. And in addition, there was a huge amount of water that will never be recovered,” said Terry Clawson, spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state’s environment agency.
The binational commission insisted it has to adhere to legal obligations as per the 1906 treaty.
But efforts at forging a compromise have been made. Spener said the commission brokered an agreement with Mexico to postpone the release from March to this month, giving Texas farmers another month to prepare for incoming water to their land.
Texas officials insisted the commission could have delayed action further. They can still file a complaint but it’s unknown if they will do so. Clawson said that move would have to be taken directly by the U.S. border water districts themselves.