As the days drag on and Mexico continues to neglect its responsibilities as required by the 1944 Water Treaty, officials across Texas are continuing their calls for intervention from Washington to enforce the treaty, which mandates annual water exchanges between Mexico and the United States.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality sent a strongly worded letter to the U.S. Department of State Wednesday wherein Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein petitions Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson for “meaningful unilateral action” from her department concerning Mexico’s failure to comply with its annual water delivery requirements.
That letter, which follows similar letters from other officials across the Rio Grande Valley, comes as the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority has begun circulating an online petition through Texans for Treaty Compliance calling for the White House to help resolve the water deficit.
That petition at Change.org asks President Barack Obama to direct the State Department and the International Boundary and Water Commission to secure Mexico’s compliance with the treaty and resolve the current water deficit, which stands at nearly 500,000 acre-feet.
The treaty calls for Mexico to deliver 350,000 acre-feet of water per year to the United States — a delivery that directly impacts the supply of water in the Valley, RGRWA spokeswoman Linda Fernandez said.
According to the treaty, Mexico must deliver the required amount of water each year during the current five-year cycle, which began in 2010. Beginning in 2015, the United States will, in turn, deliver water from the Colorado River to Tijuana, Mexico, in fulfilling its obligations during a new five-year cycle.
But this cycle Mexico has failed to meet its water delivery commitments each year as data shows the nation delivered 82 percent of its required minimum in the first year of the cycle and 29 percent of the required minimum in the second year of the cycle. This cycle year, which began in October 2012, Mexico has delivered 6 percent of its required minimum of water.
“The situation is going from drastic to worst than drastic in terms of compliance,” Fernandez said Friday, adding that Mexico has not shown any interest in complying.
What’s most disconcerting, she said, is the lack of action from the U.S. agency charged with ensuring the enforcement of the treaty, the IBWC.
Rubinstein pointed to inaction from the IBWC in his letter, as well, saying the agency’s treatment of Mexico may show it is prioritizing diplomacy to the detriment of Valley residents.
“To date, the IBWC has been unable to achieve a meaningful delivery from Mexico that addresses the deficit and protects our interests,” Rubinstein’s letter reads. “No reasonable justification for this failure has been provided. This seems to demonstrate more diplomatic concern for Mexico than real water for Texas.”
The IBWC issued a statement in response to Rubinstein’s letter Friday, saying the agency is prioritizing the resolution of the water deficit.
“The United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission shares Commissioner Rubinstein’s concern about Mexico’s deficit in water deliveries and the significant impacts the deficit is having in Texas,” the statement reads. “The USIBWC remains engaged in the substantive work of addressing this deficit as our top priority.”
The petition cites a similar water deficit during the last cycle during which Mexico was to deliver water to the Valley. The petition claims that the Mexican water deficit cost Texans more than 3,000 jobs and $105 million in personal income.
Tropical storms and intervention from the State Department helped to resolve that deficit by 2005, which Fernandez said is Mexico’s goal once more as the Valley’s water supply continues to dry up.
“It’s just about mathematically impossible for them to comply with their obligations,” she said. “They gamble that there’s going to be a tropical storm that will fill up the reservoirs, but gambling on the weather is not compliance with the treaty. The U.S. has not once failed to comply with its minimum obligations. Mexico on the other hand is getting worse and worse and worse and now it’s not complying at all.”
She then echoed language Rubinstein used in his letter, noting that a treaty where only one party meets their obligation is not a treaty.
“It’s something else,” she said. “It’s a shakedown.”