Deep into the growing regions of Northern Mexico, farmers in Tamaulipas and Coahuila claim they also need more water, and they take it from the Rio Conchos watershed in Chihuahua to sustain their crops and livestock. The river is the primary recharge mechanism in northern Mexico for the Rio Grande. But as Mexican farmers irrigate their crops, the levels of the river drop accordingly, and less water recharges the basin.

In sun-drenched Chihuahua, the drought has had a severe economic impact on livestock producers as cattle production is down drastically and, just like their U.S. counterparts, stockmen have culled herds and suffered losses in an effort to survive the drought.

On top of that, some Mexican leaders say they, too, have gripes about treaty noncompliance—the quality and lack of water in the Colorado River specifically, which flows across the U.S. - Mexico border between Arizona and California. The long standing 1944 Treaty between the two countries also provides provisions on how the waters of the Colorado are to be divided.

Those disputes, however, are of little consolation to South Texas farmers, ranchers and communities who are facing significant losses that threaten their livelihood. The thought of Mexico's water woes rarely cross their minds, for they are far too busy wondering where they will get water next for South Texas residents, for border businesses, and for families and farms.

One day, some say, the clouds will gather and the heavens will open with steady, beneficial rain for the Southwest and Mexico, bringing relief and new life to agriculture and industry while washing away the drought-induced lines in the sand that have been drawn.

Until then it may be good to remember that the situation can be fueled even more in the days and weeks ahead depending on the intensity of the ongoing drought. As difficult as it is to maintain though, a little patience might go a long way toward survival -- until the weather forecast changes.

 

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Part 2: South Texas water crisis is drawing a line in the sand

The water that divides us: Part I

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