Texas officials request federal action to rescind water delivery to Mexico
AUSTIN — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein are challenging the International Boundary and Water Commission’s (IBWC) unilateral decision to deliver Rio Grande water to Mexico while Texas continues to suffer through unprecedented drought and water shortages.
“In the wake of the worst one-year drought in Texas history, we are asking this federal commission, run by an appointee of President Obama, to act immediately to rescind this devastating decision,” Commissioner Staples said. ”Sending water to Mexico at a time when Texas reserves are extremely vulnerable further jeopardizes our water resources and jobs here at home.”
As Texas struggles with nearly $8 billion in agricultural losses attributed to the drought, and citizens continue to face severe water shortages and restrictions, the IBWC has ordered the early release of millions of gallons of water from the Rio Grande River system to Mexico.
The IBWC’s action disrupts the strategic plans Texas and New Mexico water users have put in place to address drought; wastes water; and sets a dangerous precedent of catering to Mexico’s demands for water.
“As I expressed to IBWC Commissioner Drusina in the halls of the Texas Capitol, his decision focused only on the interests of Mexico,” said TCEQ Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein. “What he should have done is negotiate with Mexico keeping American irrigators foremost in mind to ensure that their interests were protected under the terms of the 1906 Convention.”
Members of the Rio Grande Compact Commission, which works to ensure Colorado, New Mexico and Texas receive equitable shares of water from the Rio Grande River, have voiced opposition to the IBWC decision.
“I am concerned that the interests of United States water users in Texas and New Mexico were not protected by the IBWC’s actions,” said Rio Grande Compact Commissioner Patrick Gordon. “The delivery of water to Mexico as requested by IBWC, in my opinion, does not comply with the language in the 1906 Convention, which provides for a specified water delivery schedule to Mexico when the water is in the El Paso area; not when Mexico simply requests delivery of water.”