US says Mexico not living up to treaty to share water in times of drought

World Today

A water treaty signed between the U.S. and Mexico nearly 70 years ago calls for both countries to help each other by sharing in times of water surplus and shortage, but U.S. officials said Mexico isn’t holding up its side of the bargain. CCTV America’s Ginger Vaughn reported this story from El Paso, Texas.

Years of drought conditions across the western U.S. have strained water tables and depleted rivers and reservoirs from California to Arizona to Texas. Water is scarce in this region especially during the winter.

In the spring and summer, water is released from dams for irrigation, but how much depends on supply. During last year’s drought, the irrigation period lasted just six weeks. This year wasn’t much of an improvement.

Navin Navidomskis, a sixth generation land owner in El Paso, has been on a farming hiatus and only recently got back into raising corn.

“This year there wasn’t enough water to basically farm anything… The corn was okay because it’s a shorter growing season, but the big crops here are cotton, alfalfa, and pecans, and you need water from March which we didn’t get,” Navidomskis said.

According to the treaty, the U.S. is obliged to give Mexico water from the Colorado River, Mexico in exchange, must release water from the Rio Grande and its tributaries.

“We started the cycle in 2010 with full reservoirs. 2011 was a drought year and there was very little precipitation in 2011. So we started seeing that Mexico began getting behind to its water deliveries to the United States,” International Boundary and Water Commission Sally Spener said. “The deficit right now is about 350 million cubic meters.”

That deficit is more than all the water consumed in a year by the 1.5 million residents in this area of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

But Mexico claims it can’t share what it doesn’t have, and that its own drought makes compliance with the treaty impossible.