Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Mexico's Rio Grande Water Debt Paid in Full

Gov. Perry Hails Water Deliveries as Major Victory for Texas Water Consumers

Saturday, October 01, 2005  •  Press Release

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today applauded the most recent Mexican water transfers, which have completely eliminated Mexico’s water debt to the United States as of early Tuesday morning. At one point, that debt stood at 1.5 million acre-feet. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre of land with one foot of water, or roughly 326,000 gallons of water.

“This is a tremendous victory for both countries,” Perry said. “Our farmers, ranchers and cities will have 100 percent of the water they are entitled to, not just for the rest of this year, but for all of 2006. Now that the debt is paid, both countries must continue to work in good faith to meet the water demands of citizens on both sides of the Rio Grande for years to come.”

Earlier this year, Perry announced in Mission, Texas, that the United States and Mexico signed an agreement that called for the debt elimination by Sept. 30. On March 22, Mexico transferred to the U.S. more than 210,000 acre-feet of water and began making additional water available to the U.S. at Anzalduas Dam. Mexico also transferred water to the U.S. at the International Reservoirs at Amistad and Falcon. On Tuesday, September 27th the water debt was officially eliminated.

“Because of the outstanding leadership of President Bush and Mexican President Fox and the hard work of so many people at the International Boundary and Water Commission, the State Department, our Congressional delegation, and our state leadership, Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Chairman Kathleen Hartnett White, today we share a victory,” Perry said. “We also share a bright future with all of our friends and neighbors in Mexico.”

TCEQ’s Chairman White added, “To those affected most, our Rio Grande water rights holders, you have endured 13 years of uncertainty and now your water rights are whole and ensured for the coming years. Together, working with our friends in Mexico, we preserved the treaty and established a framework for solving future debt issues.” The latest Rio Grande Watermaster report indicates that all accounts are full and the system still has more than 350,000 acre-feet of US water in excess to allocate for future use in the coming months. Perry said that while the outlook for water availability in 2006 appears promising, it is far from certain. “Texas will remain vigilant to ensure that the state receives promised water on time, and we will continue to work in partnership with Mexico on water management strategies that provide greater certainty on water transfers even in times of drought.”

Under a 1944 United States agreement with Mexico, an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water per year must be supplied by the Mexican government from tributaries to the Rio Grande River. The water, which flows down to the Gulf of Mexico from Lakes Amistad and Falcon, provides for municipal need and irrigation of agriculture in the Lower Rio Grande.

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