Mexico and the United States reached a deal 22 October to resolve Mexico’s water delivery shortfall in and around border areas under the 1944 Water Treaty with the US.
The agreement was signed only 48 hours before the deadline issued in July by the head of the United States section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). Mexico has fallen almost one year behind its required deliveries and the IBWC demanded immediate restoration of supplies. Mexican farmers seized control of the Boquilla dam that was used to meet the obligations under the treaty. A US-Mexico railway was also affected by the sometimes-violent clashes with Mexico’s National Guard.
Under the newly agreed arrangement, Mexico’s delivery schedule will be more flexible, with the ability to draw water from more than one source for delivery into the Rio Grande River. This is intended to reduce the pressure on certain locations including drought-stricken Chihuahua, which has been the site of protests in recent months.
The agreement will also establish mechanisms to analyse and develop water management tools to enhance reliability and predictability of water deliveries on both sides of the border.
Mexico claims that there is sufficient water at and near the border to meet the drinking water demand of 13 border cities. However, as part of the new arrangement, the US agreed to provide water to Mexico if it faces a municipal water shortage.
Resolution of the issue has avoided a souring of the Mexico-US relationship. Mexico has sought to maintain positive relationships with the US in the face of the worst economic crisis in about 100 years. On the US side, during an election year, farmers were pressing for resolution. Texas Governor Greg Abbott had urged the involvement of the US State Department to help enforce the treaty, and local officials proposed cutting off the crucial-to-Mexico flow of the Colorado River from Arizona.