Rio Grande River
Rio Grande Flowers
Flowing 1885 miles from the San Juan Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico, the Rio Grande river (or Rio Bravo), marks the border between Mexico and Texas along its largest stretch.
For years it supplied water to farming thirsty areas on both sides of the border. Dams, pumphouses and irrigation systems along the river multipled. 1900s when construction of dams, channelization, human consumption, and landuse practices altered the flow of the river.
Over allocation and drought ultimately contributed to a situation where water withdrawal on the river reached its maximum.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) described the issue as follows:
The waters from the lower Rio Grande River are shared between the United States and Mexico pursuant to a 1944 Treaty.
Beginning in 1992, Mexico claimed that "extraordinary drought" prevented it from fully meeting and repaying its water delivery obligations under the Treaty.
Water supplies for users in South Texas (as well as Mexico) were significantly reduced as a result. Mexico owes the United States approximately 730,700 acre feet of water and is under threat of international litigation for allegedly expropriating water at the expense of South Texas water users, though it recently reached an agreement with the United States to eliminate its water debt by September 30, 2005."
Mexico finally delivered on it's water obligation, however, a changing climate with the implied continued drought conditions along with competing agricultural interests on both sides of the border means the issue of Rio Grande water sharing will continue to cause tensions between the neighbors.
© 2011 Patricia A. Michaels