The International Boundary and Water Commission requested Monday that the Mexican government fulfill its end of the bilateral 1944 Water Treaty and deliver hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water to the United States.
The IBWC said this would help avoid another debt at the end of the five-year cycle.
According to Sally E. Spener, U.S. secretary for the IBWC, Mexico must deliver 432,360 acre-feet of water by the end of the current five-year cycle on Oct. 24.
“We wanted to emphasize the importance of Mexico fulfilling its treaty obligations,” Spener said. “They need to make sure that the current water delivery cycle ends without a debt, and we’re running out of time. They need to increase their deliveries to the United States to make sure there is not a debt.”
The previous cycle ended on Oct. 24, 2015, with Mexico owing a debt to the U.S. Mexico was able to pay the debt in 2016.
With less than four months remaining in the current cycle, Mexico has only delivered 1,317,640 acre-feet of the 1,750,000 owed to the U.S.
“Under existing international agreement, they are not to end two cycles in debt. Because the previous cycle ended in debt, they need to end the current one without a debt,” Spener said. “They have reiterated to us their intent to fulfil their treaty obligation, but we don’t want this to go down to the wire. They need to take action now to make sure that there is not a debt.”
Spener hypothesized that if Mexico is unable to fulfil its obligation by the end of this cycle, there will be “intense negotiations” to arrange for the debt to be paid off as soon as possible.
Under the 1944 Water Treaty, the U.S. is entitled to one-third of the water from six Mexican tributaries to the Rio Grande. The two main tributaries are the Conchos River in Chihuahua, which flows into the Rio Grande in the Big Bend area, and the Salado River, which flows into Falcon Dam.
The water flows into the two international reservoirs on the Rio Grande which are Amistad Dam in Del Rio and Falcon Dam.
“The water is stored in the dams, so the water that you see in the river that’s coming down and irrigating that wonderful agricultural area that you have down in the Rio Grande Valley — that is coming from those reservoirs,” Spener said.
According to waterdatafortexas.org, the current water level at Falcon Reservoir is 262.74 feet, 38.36 feet below the 301.10 foot conservation pool elevation.
The reservoir is 28% full with only 530,211 acre-feet of the 1,551,007 conservation capacity being filled.