What is in this article?:
- Water is once again rapidly running down the lower Rio Grande River -- at least for the next few days -- bringing some relief to parched South Texas cities and irrigation districts.
- But Texas and U.S. officials point out emergency release of waters upstream does not affect water owed by Mexico according to a treaty agreement.
- Meanwhile, pressure continues to build on U.S. officials who are being encouraged to step up the pressure on Mexico to secure the release of additional water.
Amistad release is a 'band aid' measure
Meanwhile, in an effort to bring immediate relief to cities and irrigation districts in the water-starved Rio Grande Valley, water releases from Amistad Dam, located on the Rio Grande near Del Rio, are increasing this week bringing high flow to the river and rapidly-declining lake levels which are expected to approach a record low in the days ahead.
At Del Rio, theNational Weather Service expects the Rio Grande to approach and remain near flood stage over the period of release which started on April 18 and is expected to end later this week.
The water is being transferred downstream to Falcon Dam where it will be released to meet irrigation and municipal water demand in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The releases are in response to water needs in both the United States and Mexico however, and do not impact Mexico’s deficit in deliveries to the United States under the 1944 Water Treaty say officials.
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At midnight on April 18, releases increased to nearly 8,000 cubic feet per second, including approximately5,300 cubic feet per second of Mexican water and 2,600 cubic feet per second of U.S. water. On Sunday, April 21, the release levels increased again, for a total release rate of nearly 9,000 cubic feet per second, including approximately 5,300 cubic feet per second for Mexico and 3,500 cubic feet per second for the United States. Releases are expected to be reduced beginning on April 27.
The new release rate is expected to cause the level of Amistad Lake to drop by as much as several feet before the end of the month, approaching the record low elevation of 1,058 feet that occurred in August 1998.
Amistad Dam is operated by the International Boundary and Water Commission on behalf of both the United States and Mexico. During normal and low reservoir conditions, the rate of U.S. releases is determined by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Rio Grande Watermaster based on the need to deliver water to Texas users.