What is in this article?:
- Harsh words have started to fly over a recently announced International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) plan to release water from the Rio Grande River to Mexico this month, earlier in the year than usual, a move Texas and New Mexico irrigation districts say will cause serious loss of water to evaporation at a time when U.S. farmers are going to need every inch they can find following last year’s drought.
History of the Water Treaties
The Treaty of 1944 provided the water of the Rio Grande an allocation of all of the waters reaching the main channel of the Rio Grande from the San Juan and Alamo Rivers, including the return flows from the lands irrigated from those two rivers, and two-thirds of the flow in the main channel of the Rio Grande from the measured Conchos, San Diego, San Rodrigo, Escondido and Salado Rivers, and the Las Vacas Arroyo—subject to certain provisions—and one-half of all other flows occurring in the main channel of the Rio Grande downstream from Fort Quitman.
The Treaty allots to the United States all of the waters reaching the main channel of the Rio Grande from the Pecos and Devils Rivers, Goodenough Spring and Alamito, Terlingua, San Felipe and Pinto Creeks, and one-third of the flow reaching the main channel of the river from the six named measured tributaries from Mexico and provides that this third shall not be less, as an average amount in cycles of five consecutive years, than 350,000 acre-feet annually, plus one-half of all other flows occurring in the main channel of the Rio Grande downstream from Fort Quitman.
Two subsequent treaties followed—the Chamizal Convention of August 29, 1963, resolved the nearly 100-year-old boundary problem at El Paso, Texas-/Juárez, Chihuahua, caused by flooding that redirected a section of the river; and the Treaty of November 23, 1970, resolved all pending boundary differences and provided for maintaining the Rio Grande and the Colorado River as the international boundary.