U.S., Mexican agencies discuss cooperation with Rio Grande usage

(Note: Mexico has NOT paid off its water debt -- Hurricane Emily did. Language Deception continues to be used to mesmerize the public like a snake charmer with a king cobra. Reynosa, Mexico, where this international summit was held, is primarily an industrial city http://www.reynosamx.com -- south Texas farmers and irrigators are planned for extinction, whether it's openly admitted or not. CONAGUA "... employs 17,000 people and has a budget of 1.1 billion dollars" as of 2004, according to its website, so Mexico has serious plans for all that water currently being used by American agriculture in south Texas -- and beyond, to the other border states. It is reference that Valley agriculture "...will likely decrease..." -- that's the first step, to mention that it's on a banana peel.)

November 20, 2005

By Melissa McEver melissam@valleystar.com  

The Brownsville Herald

Brownsville, Texas


To submit a Letter to the Editor: letters@valleystar.com 

Reynosa, Mexico - U.S. and Mexico officials already face a tug-of-war over the Rio Grande’s waters, one that is likely to worsen as the border region’s population grows and demand increases.

Now that Mexico has paid off its past-due water debt to the U.S., which at one time topped 2.5 million acre feet, officials say they want the spirit of cooperation to continue.

On Thursday, representatives from numerous agencies and groups on both sides of the border met in Reynosa for a binational conference to discuss the countries’ mutual water needs, and to come up with joint management plans.

“The Rio Grande is a stream of historical floods and droughts, feast and famine, so to speak. Therefore, we know that two to three years from now, we may see major shortages again and must find ways to stretch our water supply,” said Wayne Halbert, general manager of the Harlingen Irrigation District, at the Binational Rio Grande Summit Thursday.

The summit, organized by the U.S. and Mexico sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) http://www.IBWC.state.gov, concludes today in McAllen.

Experts on water management spoke to the assembled group on the current challenges facing water officials, including projected municipal and agricultural demand in upcoming decades, groundwater availability, water rights, conservation and numerous other issues.

Municipal water demand in the Rio Grande Valley is expected to more than double by 2060, making it crucial that the Valley conserve its water supply and use it efficiently, said Dan Hardin, manager of water uses and projections for the Texas Water Development Board http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/.  He spoke about Texas’ water-planning effort, in which all counties, divided into regions, must submit comprehensive water-management plans every five years.

Officials said that agricultural demand likely will decrease as the Valley becomes more urbanized, but that irrigation districts still need to update their infrastructure to minimize water loss. However, that funding isn't readily available, they said.

Mexican officials reported that drought conditions still plague the border area frequently, and that population growth also will put a strain on the water supply.

The future we face is a future of great demand,” said Polioptro Martinez, a civil engineer with Mexico’s national water commission (CONAGUA) http://www.cna.gob.mx/.

Experts and officials offered numerous recommendations for improving water management along the border, including modernizing water-conveyance systems, promoting conservation among users and developing new technology.

Some managers said the IBWC also should push harder for Mexico to remain in compliance with its portion of the U.S.-Mexico treaty, which requires the delivery of 350,000 acre feet of water to the U.S. each year.

“Water allocations are in good shape right now in the U.S.,” Halbert said, but he also recommended in a document that IBWC check up on Mexico’s water account more often to avoid future deficits.

Carlos Marin, acting commissioner for the U.S. section of IBWC, said the agency likely will take the recommendations from the summit to develop future directives, and also might form work groups to further discuss the ideas.
“We don't want to just have this meeting and forget about it,” Marin said. “We need to put it all together and see where we go from there.”

Copyright 2005, The Brownsville Herald.