What is in this article?:
- Wading through South Texas water woes part 3
- When the well runs dry, we know the worth of water.
- So far, Mexico has released an estimated 420,000 acre-feet of water in the current cycle.
"This report provides a dire warning on the devastating impact Mexico’s water deficit is having on the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It is clear proof that agriculture, businesses and residents in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are suffering, and the IBWC has tools to compel Mexico to fulfill its obligations before the water debt becomes unmanageable," Staples said in the release.
"I remind everyone that this is not a debate between two countries over how to share water—that debate happened decades ago and resulted in a treaty. This is about getting Mexico to live by the treaty, just like the U.S.”
The TDA/TCEQ report, co-authored by Commissioner Staples and Commissioner Rubinstein, details specific actions the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) should take to compel Mexico to deliver Rio Grande water owed to Texas.
It further makes specific recommendations, such as modifying Mexico’s internal and international reservoir operation plan to release water from upstream reservoirs that are above normal capacity; not allowing Mexico’s water deficit to grow beyond current levels; and implementing treaty provisions to allow for more flexibility in water delivery and apportioning.
Recommendations in the report also acknowledge accounting for water that flows at Fort Quitman and water salinity issues created by Mexico, and challenges the IBWC to take a stronger and more proactive management role in stopping what the report calls illegal diversions of Texas water by Mexico.
It may be the strongest words yet issued over growing concerns that the South Texas economy could be on the edge of a very steep cliff. Without water, it is anything but business as usual.
Staples referred to last week's Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service's economic analysis that estimated the lack of irrigation water has cost $229.2 million in South Texas crop revenue losses already this year and will ultimately contribute to an estimated $394.9 million loss in economic output for the region.
“Without irrigation water, whether by drought, an unpaid Mexican water debt or a combination of both, the economic cost is very high for this region,” said Dr. Luis Ribera, an agricultural economist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.
He says the analysis may actually be conservative in terms of total losses because it does not include losses that occur beyond farm level sales, "such as transportation, storage, processing, packaging and marketing.”
According to Staples, the impact of Mexico’s ongoing water deficit will be substantial for farmers and residents in South Texas this year. Already, he says at least 10 cities in the Valley have been notified that if conditions persist they will run out of water by August.
“AgriLife’s analysis verifies our fears and provides concrete evidence of the magnitude of the effects that Mexico’s non-compliance with the 1944 Treaty has on agricultural interests in the Lower Rio Grande Valley,” Rubinstein added. “The analysis clearly highlights the tremendous impact this water has on the U.S. economy."