Water We Do? U.S. And Mexico Struggle To Resolve Water Dispute

Beyond immigration, a new border dispute between the U.S. and Mexico has been heating up for years and is about to reach a fever pitch. An 80-year-old treaty obligates Mexico to deliver water from tributaries on their side of the Rio Grande to parts of South Texas every five years. But many such shipments have been delayed or halted altogether. Severe drought has plagued both nations, resulting in the ongoing disagreement. Now, with reservoirs on the Rio Grande at critically low levels, many industries and communities in South Texas are being impacted, including the loss of the last sugar mill in the region.

The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), which oversees the negotiation and execution of the treaty, is struggling to work out a solution. Despite optimistic discussions in 2023, Mexico ultimately declined to sign a new agreement, leaving Texas and federal officials urging compliance amidst growing local agricultural distress.

The previous five-year cycle ended in 2020 with last-minute agreements, but current conditions suggest Mexico will again fail to meet its obligations, exacerbating the strain on Rio Grande Valley farmers and communities.

U.S. and Mexican officials formed a working group to draft a new minute to ensure more reliable water deliveries, but progress stalled due to political tensions, including disputes over migrant control measures. The draft minute aimed to address longstanding disagreements, emphasizing Mexico’s responsibility to release water from domestic reservoirs. However, Mexican officials’ reluctance to sign due to internal political pressures has left the situation unresolved, intensifying regional water scarcity issues.

Political maneuvers in both countries, including pressure from U.S. lawmakers to withhold funds from Mexico, have not yet yielded a resolution. Mexican leaders are facing strong opposition from the agricultural sector in Chihuahua, which also depends on the tributaries. Furthermore, in June the country elected a new president – the first-ever female president in the nation’s history – whose stance on the matter is not clear. Uncertainty from the U.S.’s own upcoming presidential election is also a factor, as both candidates have strongly divergent attitudes towards U.S.-Mexico relations in general.

The Rio Grande Valley faces a difficult summer with insufficient water supplies, pushing municipalities to seek alternative water sources. Even then, a solution will be needed soon to avoid more dire consequences.

*Photo Credit: Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

Leave a Reply


Recent Blogs