Local officials are hopeful that a plea by Texas
Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality Commissioner Carlos Rubenstein to the International Boundary and Water
Commission and State Department to press Mexico for water will not fall on deaf
ears south of the Rio Grande.
"Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico must deliver an average of 350,000 acre-feed owed to the U.S. today, and the water deficit continues to grow, causing water suppliers across the Rio Grande Valley to run out of water," TCEQ and TDA said in a joint statement.
"Since November, the State of Texas has repeatedly warned the IBWC, the State Department and Mexico water officials in face-to-face discussion that if the Mexico water deficit issues was not resolved, this situation would occur," Rubenstein said.
"Now it is occurring, thanks to our federal entities' inability to secure a meaningful water delivery agreement," he said. "This is just the first domino falling. Next we could see other irrigation districts running out of irrigation water, rising water prices, then inability of districts and municipalities to finance push water purchase and finally push water simply being unavailable at any price," he said.
Push water is additional water cities such as Raymondville and Lyford must buy to ensure their municipal water allotments will be carried through canals.
"It is crucial to the socio-economic structure of the Rio Grande Valley and indeed the entire state that the State Department steps up their commitment to have Mexico comply with the water treaty and release water to Texas," Rubenstein said.
In Willacy County, the cities of Raymondville and Lyford, as well as area farmers and ranchers, will be in dire straits if Mexico does not begin releasing additional water, said Troy Allen, general manager of Delta Lake Irrigation District.
Willacy County agriculture could possibly salvage at least part of this year's crops if Mexico began releasing the 430,000 acre-feet of water it has held back during the present five-year cycle, Allen said.
"It would certainly help some of the grain that's been planted," he said of the badly needed irrigation water.
"As far as the cotton, I'm not sure if it would totally save the cotton, but it would help. It would help the sugar cane for sure and the citrus," he said.
Addressing the IBWC, Rubenstein said, "I look forward to receiving from you very soon a credible plan we can review and gain comfort in that, actually and in a meaningful way address this situation."
Willacy County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. said that, not only are cities such as Raymondville and Lyford on water restrictions, but the economic impact of expected losses in the farming and ranching industries and businesses are going to be brutal to Willacy County.
Also, the trickle-down effect on retail stores and all other aspects of the county's economy is going to be harsh on all county residents, Gonzales said.
(c)2013 Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas)
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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