FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 06/10/2004
Representative Guillen seeks firm agreement on repayment of Mexico's Rio Grande water debt
AUSTIN - Representative Ryan Guillen sent letters to Governor Rick Perry, Commissioner Arturo Duran at the International Boundary and Water Commission, and to E. G. Pittman, the chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, this week asking for their assistance in resolving Mexico's water debt to the Rio Grande River system.
"Today there is a lot of water in the Rio Grande system. The lakes are up and business and commerce is picking up as well. Now is the time to push for a firm annual repayment of this water debt that will help ease the inevitable reductions in the system during the coming summer and in years ahead when rainfall is not as abundant as it has been for the past year," Guillen said.
"If we wait to resolve this issue when water inflows are low again, there will be little hope of a suitable resolution," he commented. Guillen said he believes Mexico should abide by the terms of the treaty when it comes to transferring a third of current inflows into the Rio Grande to the US and should also repay the past water debt as well.
He pointed out that Texas communities bore the brunt of the economic losses caused by the drought when Mexico failed to deliver water under treaty requirements over the past decade, and said now is the time for Mexico to agree to a plan to repay all the undelivered water in addition to the current inflows.
Falcon and Amistad Reservoirs play a vital role in the south Texas economy, providing tourism and recreational revenue all up and down the US/Mexico border and creating much needed jobs in Webb, Zapata and Starr counties to provide services and goods to sportsmen, to tourists and to Winter Texans who are drawn to the area by the lakes.
"Today Mexico owes the US 846,059 acre-feet of water, and a firm repayment plan agreed to now could maintain the levels of our lakes for the next three to five years and mitigate the effects of drought conditions if and when they recur," Guillen said.
By treaty, Mexico is required to provide to the US a third of the total flow into the Rio Grande of six designated Mexican tributaries, and the treaty calls for a minimum of 350,000 acre-feet of water each year. In each five year period that is a minimum of 1,750,000 acre-feet of water.
From 1992 to 1997 Mexico was about 1 million acre-feet short of the treaty minimum. From 1997 to 2002 Mexico was short about 500,000 additional acre-feet of water from the designated rivers, leaving them with a total water debt to the US of 1.5 million-acre feet.
In the current five year cycle from 2002 to 2007, the US has already received about 1 million acre-feet of water from Mexico in the past 18 months. That excess over the required 350,000 acre-feet per year and water transfers made by Mexico to the US of waters already in Amistad and Falcon reservoirs have reduced that 2002 water debt to today's level.
"I am asking these officials to do their best to conclude an agreement with Mexico this year that requires repayment of the previous shortfalls from the past decade in addition to the water the US is entitled to by the treaty in the current five year period," Guillen explained.
Robert M. (Bob) McVey
Office of State Representative Ryan Guillen
512-463-0416 ---- Fax 512-463-1012
Office E1.310, Capitol Complex
P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768