McAllen, Texas - As of Wednesday night, Mexico opened the gates at
El Cuchillo dam in northern Nuevo Leon, beginning a controlled release
of water to the Rio Grande that is expected to prevent flooding in
Until the end of May, in preparation for hurricane season
or other rain events, Mexico will release about 5,000 cubic feet of
water per second from El Cuchillo into the Rio San Juan, which joins
the river at Rio Grande City.
The water release will free up storage space since the dam has been
overspilling, said Sally Spener, public affairs specialist for the
U.S. side of the International Boundaries and Water Commission.
Before last fall’s heavy rains, the dam had not been
over-spilling since 1988, Spener said.
“This is good; it is a controlled release,” Spener said.
“They're making room for additional (rain) water.”
The water will not directly benefit South Texas farmers
since the point of the release is downstream of Falcon and Amistad
dams, where water is stored for Mexico and the U.S., said Carlos
Rubinstein, Rio Grande watermaster.
But the water still will benefit river conditions that, eventually,
will help farmers, Rubinstein said.
“It doesn't provide long-term relief because we don't have a place
to store it,” Rubinstein said. “But there are some benefits to
The extra rush of water will help clear out aquatic weeds, he said.
“It (the extra water) simply flushes it out,” Rubinstein said.
Before October’s heavy rainfall helped get rid of the aquatic weeds,
20 percent more water than the demand was released from Falcon and
Amistad to push along the requested water, Rubinstein said.
But as of October, that has not been the case, he said.
This means that more water can be stored in the dams, which currently
have a combined total storage of more than 50 percent of their
capacity, Rubinstein said.
Overall, the extra water will improve the river’s health, he said.
“It’s going to greatly benefit us in maintaining the mouth of the
river open and producing fresh water inflows at the Gulf of Mexico,”
Water conditions are looking the best they have in 10 years, said Jo
Jo White, general manager of the Mercedes irrigation district.
The recent rain has been sufficient enough that farmers do not need to
pump water from the river right now, White said.
“It’s a good feeling to know we have ample water to meet our
demand for this growing season,” White said.