At the web site for Scotland's National newspaper, TheScotsman.co.uk, an article was posted on June 17, 2002 referring to the situation as a "Cold War over Water". See, back in 1944 the US and Mexico signed this treaty that agreed that Mexico would pay 114 billion gallons of water to Texas a year by regulating dams on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. However, Mexico is now over 500 billion gallons in debt and after a recent spigot opening on the Mexican side of the Falcon Lake Resevoir, over 11 billion gallons have been dispensed to Mexican farmers who have been dealing with a terrible drought for the better part of a decade. This angers Texan water officials and farmers because not only is Mexico failing to use that water to pay off their debt, but the water taken from Falcon Lake will ruin the fishing situation there and farmers off the Rio Grande will have a much harder time farming at a time when they too are dealing with the same drought affecting Mexican farmers.
This situation is only made worse by the fifth placement of the Rio Grande on the 10 most endangered US waterways list compiled by American Rivers, a Washington DC-based environmental group. They point out that the Rio Grande has gotten so thin that it lacks enough water to even make it to the Gulf of Mexico.
Either way, the water situation is a serious one and unless the mainstream media starts covering it, before we know it, we'll be ill equiped to deal with a world where water is, in the short term, more important the money or oil.
Read more about the US and Mexico's "Cold War over Water" in the Scotsman by clicking "more" below and then scrolling down.
Read more about the Rio Grande being on the ten most endangered US waterways list at the Houston Chronicle website.
Read about the Falcon Lake Resevoir situation at the Valley Morning Star website and MySanAntonio.com.
Check out page 2 if any of the links have gone bad.
Originally from TheScotsman.co.uk:
Mexico and US fighting a cold war over water
Simeon Tegel in Mexico City
THE famously warm relationship between the US president, George Bush, and his Mexican counterpart, Vicente Fox, is coming under strain in a growing dispute over the waters of the Rio Grande.
Mr Bush is said to have twice telephoned Mr Fox recently in a cold war over water that threatens to overshadow their shared love of cowboy boots, stetsons and horseriding.
The pair discussed Mr Bushï¿½s plea for the immediate release of billions of gallons of water from six Mexican tributaries to the Rio Grande, the fabled river that straddles the drought-stricken plains between their two countries.
Desperate farmers in Mr Bushï¿½s home state of Texas risk losing their harvest of citrus crops and sugar cane in the next few days, it is claimed, if the water does not come.
Another round of urgent talks in Washington this month over Mexicoï¿½s growing water debt to the US failed to find a solution. Under a 1944 treaty between the two countries, Mexico is obliged to provide the US with an annual average of 114 billion gallons through the Rio Grande. But Mexico is nearly 500 billion gallons behind in its payments, thanks in part to a drought that has afflicted its northern states - and parts of the US South - for nearly a decade.
Mr Fox agrees in principle that Mexico must provide more water to Texas. But he insists none need be supplied before September, when a new five-year period begins under the treaty. He is also pleading for a loan for some ï¿½70 million to allow Mexican border farmers to set up a more efficient reservoir and irrigation system.
Many Mexicans feel their president has already gone too far in bending to various US demands, while failing to win concessions on his own agenda, such as an amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants working north of the border.
His administration has stood by while the US blocks Mexican trucks from crossing the border, claiming they are unsafe, despite the right of free passage articulated in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Nor can Mexicans understand why their country should help US agriculture, which stands to benefit from nearly $200 billion (ï¿½140 billion) of subsidies approved by Mr Bush last month, by taking water from equally parched but severely under-funded Mexican farmers in the border states of Chihuahua.
"Mexicoï¿½s priorities are ensuring enough water supplies for our border communities and honouring our international obligations," Alicia Buenrostro, Mr Foxï¿½s spokeswoman, told The Scotsman.
She said the failed talks in Washington would resume in a matter of days but would not give details of the highly-sensitive negotiations.
The row has only been deepened by the fact that state elections are imminent on both sides of the border, including some key governorsï¿½ races.
This week Patricio Martï¿½nez, governor of Chihuahua, publicly accused his Texas counterpart, Republican Rick Perry, of avoiding dialogue. "He has not shown that he has the will for dialogue or to see how we can solve this problem," said Mr Martï¿½nez.
Such discord is ominous. With its economy closely linked to Mexicoï¿½s, Texas has, ironically, been more supportive of further integration under NAFTA as well as allowing more Mexicans to work legally on Texan farms or drive their lorries over the border.
Some of the strongest opponents of such moves, by contrast, come from the USï¿½s northern states, which actually have least contact with Mexico.
If or when the two sides reach agreement, any harmony is set to be short-lived. Mexicoï¿½s water needs are growing as rapidly as its population of 100 million and its fast-developing economy. In Baja California, there are projects to build expensive desalination plants of the type normally only used in oil emirates of the Middle East.
In Mexico City, the giant acquifer below the metropolis, over-exploited since the Spanish conquistadors destroyed the Aztecsï¿½ water system, has only 15 years of water left. Engineers are unsure how they will provide lifeï¿½s most basic necessity to the cityï¿½s 22 million residents once the acquifer is gone.
Updated 04/22/2003 21:57:33 CST
Mexico gobbles up Falcon water
By SANDRA BILLINGSLEY
Mexico has opened Falcon Lakeï¿½s spigot and Lower Rio Grande farmers are feeling deceived.
Mexico is releasing the reservoirï¿½s water at a rate of more than 11,600 acre-feet per day, said Sally Spener, U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission spokeswoman. One acre-foot is 325,000 gallons or enough water to cover an acre of land at a depth of 1 foot.
"Thatï¿½s water that could have been used by Mexico to pay down its deficit," said Jo Jo White, Hidalgo and Cameron counties irrigation district No. 9 general manager.
"The water theyï¿½re releasing now wasnï¿½t allocated to anyone. So, if it wasnï¿½t allocated by Mexico, then it was ï¿½free waterï¿½ and they could have used it to pay down their deficit."
Mexico owes the United States more then 1.3 million acre-feet under the 1944 Water Treaty signed by the United States and Mexico, Spener said.
However, the water being released is Mexican water, and under the 1944 treaty, this particular amount of water is not promised to the United States under the agreement, Spener said.
"Mexico has the right to use its water as it sees fit," she said. "However, this is of concern because we werenï¿½t advised in advance of Mexicoï¿½s plans to release this volume of water this season.
"(The IBWCï¿½s) been requesting this information and we havenï¿½t received it prior to the start of these releases, which began at the current rate on April 18. Thereï¿½d been some other limited releases earlier in the month, but they began this significantly increased amount during the past few days."
Although the water wasnï¿½t allocated to either country, White said he and some Valley farmers had been informed by the IBWC last year that Mexico would be receiving the water from the San Juan River. The Falcon Lake water is being used to irrigate farms in Tamaulipas, he said.
"So, this is a double whammy for us," he said. "Not only is Mexico releasing water that could have been ours but theyï¿½ve also lost the opportunity now to show good faith and transfer that water to us instead of diverting to another district in Mexico that we were told was going to get water from another source."
The water in the San Juan River system, White said, is in good shape and would have been more than enough to meet the Mexico farmersï¿½ needs.
"We donï¿½t want to short change those people in Mexico who are using this water, but we thought we had a glimmer of hope," White said.
The impact on the U.S. farms, he said, would be less water available this summer.
Zapata businessmen already are feeling an economic drought because tourists and fishermen arenï¿½t returning to the lake.
During the early 1990s, Falcon Lake was known as one of the best bass fishing lakes in Texas, said Larry Bridgeman, Zapata resident and owner of Falcon Lake Tackle.
"Since then, thereï¿½s been a diminishing number of fish, their quality is poorer and their size is smaller," he said.
The water elevation, which has dropped two feet in the past week, has been the result of Mexico releasing the water, Rio Grande Watermaster Carlos Rubinstein said.
"Weï¿½re moving water from Amistad to Falcon to compensate for our releases from Falcon, but the impact is from the Mexican release of water.
"I cannot make a move because that water belongs to Mexico," Rubinstein said. "Iï¿½ll be able to maintain the U.S. release from Amistad to Falcon, but thatï¿½s all."
White said Valley farmers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Mexican governmentï¿½s refusal to follow terms of the 1944 treaty.
"Theyï¿½ve lost our trust years ago," he said. "All it does is just reaffirms our ultimate belief that theyï¿½re not going to comply."
ï¿½2003, Valley Morning Star, a Freedom Communications, Inc. Company. All rights reserved.
Water flow in Mexico riles Texans
ï¿½ By Jeorge Zarazua Express-News Border Bureau ï¿½ Web Posted : 4/23/2003 12:00 AM ï¿½ LAREDO ï¿½ For the first time in three years, Mexico is releasing enough water from Falcon Lake reservoir to allow a successful planting season for drought-stricken farmers in the northern state of Tamaulipas.
But the amount being released for irrigation purposes worries officials and Rio Grande Valley farmers on the U.S. side.
Rio Grande Watermaster Carlos Rubinstein said Mexico is expected to release 350,000 acre-feet of water from its share of the reservoir in two to three weeks.
Since April 18, it has been drawing 11,600 acre-feet of water per day from the reservoir. That's nearly five times the daily amount that U.S. officials are releasing for irrigation purposes to farmers on the U.S. side, Rubinstein said.
An acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons.
Texas Parks and Wildlife officials say that if the trend continues for
another week or two, the water levels at Falcon Lake will decrease below 257 feet above sea level and endanger fish spawning in the lake's vegetation.
"If that happens, you'll get a (lower) survival rate for young fish," said Bobby Farquhar, the department's regional director for inland fisheries.
Rubinstein said the lake level has fallen four feet since the beginning of this month, to 264 feet above sea level.
He said Mexican authorities haven't indicated whether or how they would replenish the reservoir with water the country holds in reservoirs along upstream tributaries. The United States is releasing water from Amistad reservoir to offset any water it takes from Falcon for farmers, he added.
"Without any corresponding Mexican water inflows to offset it, the lake will probably be around 257 the first week of May," Rubinstein said.
Sally Spener, a spokeswoman for the International Boundary and Water Commission, a binational regulatory group, said the amount being released hasn't gone unnoticed, considering Mexico owes almost 1.5 million acre-feet of water to the United States under terms of a 1944 water rights treaty. The debt is from recent years but Mexico is meeting its current obligations.
The nonpayment of the debt has cost the Texas economy about $1 billion since 1992, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.
"It is of concern because we were not advised, in advance, of these releases by Mexico," Spener said. "So, we are considering our options for addressing this issue with Mexico."
From Chron.com (the Houston Chronicle website):
April 26, 2003, 6:47PM
Two Texas rivers named endangered waterwaysAssociated Press
DALLAS -- Plans to develop the Trinity River in Dallas and build a dam in Brownsville near the Rio Grande's mouth have helped put both Texas rivers on an annual list of the 10 most endangered waterways in the country.
American Rivers, a Washington-based environmental group, said the Rio Grande ranked fifth on its list while the Trinity ranked 10th in the survey spotlighting waterways facing acute crises.
In choosing the Trinity, the environmental group criticized Dallas' Trinity River Corridor Project, approved by voters in 1998, which calls for extending a man-made floodway; building levees, wetlands, a downtown lake, parks and trails; acquiring 2,700 acres of land along the river; and possibly building toll roads in the flood plain.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Dallas are preparing to transform a surprisingly pristine portion of the Trinity River into a giant storm drain," said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. "Unless the public can persuade them to revise their vision for the city's riverfront, Dallas residents will lose a remarkable urban oasis."
The group said plans to realign the river channel would damage much of the
habitat, and fast-moving water would increase erosion.
The group warned that new levees could create a false sense of flood security and lure more residents and businesses into flood-prone areas.
But the city argued that its project will enhance the environmental and aesthetic quality of the floodway, as well as the quality of life for South Dallas residents long cut off from economic prosperity flowing north of the river.
"We feel that the Trinity River will become the central focal point and probably the greatest source of pride for all Dallas citizens," said Jill Jordan, assistant city manager.
The Rio Grande made the list because environmental groups fear the impact of proposals for Brownsville and Albuquerque to use more water from the river, which is already too dry to reach the Gulf of Mexico.