Mexico to Pay U.S. Water Debt In Full

Government officials in Mexico believe the country will be able to pay off its pending water debt to the United States "in the next few years."

The country's National Water Commission also noted that Mexico needs to implement better water usage and infrastructure to keep from falling into debt again.

"If the patterns of the last two rainy seasons continue, our country will be able to pay off its debt completely over the next three years … However, in order not to fall into the same circumstances again, steps must be taken to re-evaluate development patterns and change consumption habits," the water commission said in a press release.

A 1944 water-sharing treaty requires Mexico to send the United States an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water each year from six Rio Grande tributaries. The United States must send Mexico 1.5 million acre feet from the Colorado River in return.

Abundant rains in 2003 and 2004 replenished South Texas' two Rio Grande reservoirs and allowed Mexico to reduce its water debt from 1.5 million acre-feet to less than 800,000 acre-feet.

But in August, a group from Rio Grande Valley filed a damage claim seeking US$500 million from Mexico for crop loss and other damages the group believes were caused by that country's failure to comply with the water-sharing treaty.

Last week, 17 irrigation districts, a water supply company and 29 individual farmers notified Mexican officials of the claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed among the United States, Canada and Mexico and took effect in 1994.

An acre-foot is 326,000 gallons, enough water to flood an acre of land a foot deep.

The Associated Press

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