Tags: Texas | Fights | Mexico | for | Water

Texas Fights Mexico for Water

Monday, 25 February 2002 12:00 AM

Attorney General John Cornyn said his Rio Grande Water Rights Task Force would pursue the state's rights and remedies under the 1944 treaty that governs the river. Mexico owes Texas more than 1.4 million acre-feet of water, he said.

"This is a critical issue that affects the border region of Texas, which depends on the Rio Grande for adequate water supplies," he said. "My legal team will examine every avenue available, both legal and diplomatic, to help ensure that Texans receive the water that Mexico agreed to provide under the 1944 treaty."

Mexico is suppose to release a specified amount of water from reservoirs south of the border and Texas officials say the shortage is wrecking the $500 million-a-year agriculture industry in the Rio Grande Valley and threatening critical city water supplies.

Gordon Hill, manager of Bayview Irrigation District at Weslaco, said he and several other valley officials met with Cornyn last week to push for the legal action. He said they have been fighting the battle since 1995.

"We proved that Mexico was intentionally holding back the water in Chihuahua and using it for their own benefit to sell fruits and vegetables and running our farmers out of business," he said in an interview with United Press International.

The valley has suffered an economic loss of about $350 million a year and up to 21,000 full and part-time jobs have been lost, Hill said. Mexico has increased its export of fruits and vegetables north by a billion pounds a year, he added.

"They are using our own water against us," Hill said Monday.

"Right now our biggest concern is that we won't have the water to meet our obligations, not only to our farmers, but we may not be able to transport the municipal water to our cities. This would be a major disaster for this area."

For the past 10 years, Mexico has failed to fulfill its obligations to transfer the amount of water prescribed in the treaty for use by Texas. The treaty requires that one-third of the flow reaching the Rio Grande from five specified tributaries be allotted to the United States, the attorney general said.

Mexican officials were not immediately available to comment on the Texas attorney general's latest action. In the past they have said they would honor their treaty obligations and noted that Mexican farmers have also suffered from droughts in recent years along with Texas farmers. Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Attorney General John Cornyn said his Rio Grande Water Rights Task Force would pursue the state's rights and remedies under the 1944 treaty that governs the river. Mexico owes Texas more than 1.4 million acre-feet of water, he said. This is a critical issue that affects...
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Monday, 25 February 2002 12:00 AM
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