The water — at least some of it — is on its way.
Officials with the International Boundary and Water Commission reported Friday that the Mexican government has started to release water from one its reservoirs into the Rio Grande. Once the water arrives in flows into the river, one-third of it will be allotted to the United States, they said.
The news came in a letter Friday addressed to U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Pete Gallegos, D-Alpine; and Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, outlining the progress the IBWC has made with Mexico.
The Mexican government also has agreed to allow the U.S. to utilize excess Mexican water arriving in the Rio Grande from pre-identified Mexican tributaries, the letter stated. Officials said this arrangement should increase deliveries to the U.S. during periods of precipitation.
While IBWC Commissioner Edward Drusina said he is pleased with Mexico’s actions, “more is needed to address the existing water deficit and the immediate water needs of South Texas.”
Drusina also stated that the IBWC continues to offer specific proposals to the Mexican Section of the IBWC on water deliveries to the U.S. to prevent water shortages in South Texas.
However, he said, Mexico’s response to the proposals and request has been “slower than expected.”
He added that the commission would continue to push Mexico for more water deliveries.
Cuellar announced the water delivery Friday evening in a news release applauding Mexico for its actions. In the release, Cuellar states Mexico and the IBWC approved the release of water from the La Fragua Dam in Coahuila to the communities in South Texas.
“This evening I was encouraged by Mexico’s first step of water delivery in line with the Treaty on the Utilization of Waters to the United States,” he said in the release. “While we’re unsure of the impact this water release will have on water security for our communities and where Mexico stands in relation to the terms of the treaty, I’m thankful to the Mexican government for this good faith effort and actively working with the United States to solve the water availability crisis near our international border.”
Earlier this week, Vela had some strong words for the U.S. State Department and the IBWC: “They don’t give a damn about South Texas.”
Vela’s comments followed a letter he received this week from the State Department that did not mention if or when Mexico would deliver water to the U.S. as required in a 1944 water treaty between the two countries.
Under the 1944 water sharing treaty between Mexico and the U.S., Mexico is to deliver water to the U.S. in cycles of five years. The current five-year cycle began in October 2010 and ends in October 2015, which means Mexico has until that time to deliver the water it owes, officials said.
The total volume Mexico must deliver during the five year period is 1,750,000 acre-feet, providing there are no exceptional drought conditions in Mexico, officials said. As of March 16, 2013, Mexico had delivered 405,568 acre-feet.
Although Mexico technically has until October 2015 to deliver the water to the U.S., federal, state, county and local leaders said the water is needed now due to the ongoing drought in South Texas. In addition, the leaders said Mexico is supposed to deliver a minimum annual average of 350,000 acre-feet during the five-year cycle except in the event of extraordinary drought or serious accident to Mexico’s conveyance system.