Mexico, U.S. Suffer As Rio Grande Sucked Dry

Mexico, U.S. Suffer As Rio Grande Sucked Dry

By Robin Emmott Sun Dec 16, 8:19 PM ET
EJIDO LA LAGUNA, Mexico (Reuters) -

Julian Rosales' farm is within a stone's throw of one of North America's biggest rivers, but the Mexican landowner fears he will not be able to sow his crops next year for lack of water. Rusty tractors plow Rosales' parched earth along the banks of the Rio Grande on Mexico's border with Texas where thousands of local farmers say their livelihoods are at stake because Mexico was this year forced by a bilateral treaty to transfer millions of liters of water to the United States.

While farmers and lawmakers in arid northern Mexico seek to challenge the water payment in an international court, the farmers' plight is a symptom of a much bigger problem: the Rio Grande and its underground aquifers are being sucked dry on both sides of the frontier.
The eastern border region is slowly heading toward a water crisis.

"They have taken our water and these lands are dying. Our children are emigrating to the United States, some illegally," said Rosales, who grows the animal feed sorghum in the desert lands of Mexico's Tamaulipas state on the Gulf of Mexico.

Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico is required to transfer water to the United States every five years from the two dams the countries share on the Texas border. For farmers in Tamaulipas, that means ruined harvests and hardship every time the transfer is made.

The landscape is now dotted with abandoned farms and villages unable to enjoy the artificial irrigation that is central to agriculture in a desert region with sporadic rains. In a last attempt to save the farmers, lawmakers in Tamaulipas have called on Mexico's Supreme Court to rule on whether this year's water transfer was lawful. They argue the treaty stipulates the payment should be made with water from six Mexican tributaries further west along the border that feed the Rio Grande, not with surface water from Tamaulipas. If they win, lawmakers aim to take the United States to an international court to force it to return the water.

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U.S. To Deny Mexico Water?

My previous entry about this from August, 2006 with more information on the 1944 treaty. And once again, greed takes precedence over human rights.

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