In spite of welcome rains that fell across South Texas Tuesday, Texas Water Development Board Chairman Carlos Rubinstein and Texas state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, seized the day when they staged a public information session in Brownsville spotlighting ongoing and troubling issues concerning the 1944 Water Treaty between the U.S. and Mexico.

The meeting was termed an "information session" concerning the terms and language of the 70 year old bi-national water agreement, but shortly after opening the meeting, Rubenstein suggested the time for real action had arrived.

"This isn’t a problem with the treaty. This is a problem with the willingness to comply with the treaty,” he told those crowded into the Board Room of the Brownsville Public Utilities Board (PUB) Administration Building.

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Tuesday's event represents the latest in a round of meetings staged over the last year involving a growing number of state and local government officials, agriculture representatives, water and irrigation districts board members, and the general public who have been encouraging federal officials to get tougher on Mexico about honoring their commitment to the water treaty and to deliver water to South Texas as required.

According to the water treaty, Mexico is required to release 1.75 million acre-feet of water to the U.S. over a five year cycle in exchange for water the U.S must deliver to Mexico from the Colorado River. Many water officials in the U.S. say Mexico is required by the agreement to deliver a minimum of 350,000 acre-feet of water each year of each five year cycle, a position Rubenstein says is interpreted differently by Mexican water officials.

 

Rubenstein, with the help of Lucio and Valley agriculture industry representative Ray Prewett, made the presentation in hopes of helping the public better understand the terms and obligations of the treaty and the consequences of Mexico's failure to deliver water that is owed to South Texas on time.

Rubenstein and Lucio spoke about the legal aspects of the treaty while Prewett talked about how South Texas was suffering economic hardships as a result of Mexico's failure to deliver the water on time. He told those gathered that some $400 million in income and some 5,000 jobs in or related to agriculture are dependent on water allocations from Mexico each year.