Mexico Protesters Succeed In Blocking Plan To Transfer Water To United States

30 Mar 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat

Following protests, The National Water Commission of Mexico (CONAGUA) appears to have backed down on a plan to divert water to the United States under terms of a 1944 bi-lateral treaty. The company tweeted 26 March that it had taken the decision to stop the additional water diversion from the La Boquilla dam in the nothern Chihuahua State due to farmers’ rejection of the move.

Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral said that he was happy with Conagua’s decision, describing the previous release plan as “erratic” and “foolish.”

Regional farmers at La Boquilla dam, in northern Mexico, had blocked a highway and set CONAGUA trucks on fire earlier on 26 March in protest of a federal government order to transfer water to the United States, in a third such major disruption in less than two months.

The protests followed the order from CONAGUA to transfer water in compliance with a 1944 bi-lateral water-sharing treaty. Mexico has fallen behind in its transfers and is now attempting to “pay its water debts”.

“Given the opposition among Chihuahua water users to complying with the International Water Treaty of 1944 and in light of the adverse social situation, Conagua has decided to return to normal-level releases of water from the La Boquilla dam," the commission wrote on its Twitter account.

The treaty requires transfer of 1.75 million acre-feet every five years from Mexico to the US. In exchange, the US transfers water to Mexico but further west. Transfers were maintained through 2017 but have fallen off in the past couple of years. The five-year cycle ends in October and so far, Mexico is about 475,000 acre-feet behind schedule.

Interior Secretary of the State of Chihuahua, Luis Fernando Mesta, called for restraint while expressing sympathy that the farmers could be left without enough water. State government officials would like to preserve resources for their own use and continue the strategy of “wait and hope for summer rains” that will be sufficient to meet commitments under the treaty.

Federal officials have often placed a different emphasis with Mexico President saying “We do not want an international conflict...Treaties have to be lived up to. If we have signed a treaty, we have to comply with it".