Congressmen seek Obama administration help with getting more Rio Grande water from Mexico



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BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Persistent drought has kept South Texas farmers and community leaders in an uproar for years over shortfalls in the delivery of water to the Rio Grande from Mexico's tributaries. Now, they're asking for congressional help in getting the White House to intervene in the dispute.

A letter signed by a bipartisan group of Texas congressional delegation members has been sent to President Barack Obama, asking for assistance in persuading Mexico to deliver water to the Rio Grande as required by a 1944 U.S.-Mexico treaty, The Brownsville Herald (http://bit.ly/XUpods) reported.

The congressional members complain about what they see as Mexico's lack of commitment to comply with the treaty and deliver water to the United states on a regular basis, as the treaty requires.

"We are approaching a critical juncture and feel strongly that the matter must be elevated from the IBWC (International Boundary and Water Commission) to the highest levels of the United States government in order to mitigate further harm to the U.S. and avoid detrimental impact to the relationship between our two countries," the letter states.

Thirty-five of the 38 members of the Texas congressional delegation signed the letter, which was sent to the president Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, a Brownsville Democrat, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Under the treaty, Mexico is required to deliver water to the United States in five-year cycles. The present cycle runs from October 2010 through October 2015. Mexico's water delivery has gone through irregular spells its government has blamed on persistent drought on its side of the border.

Vela and Cornyn have proposed provisions for next fiscal year's appropriations bill that direct the State Department to press the Mexican government for adoption of a water delivery schedule devised recently by the IBWC. They also would require the state Department to report back to Congress on why Mexico has not agreed to regular water deliveries.

"We strongly urge you to elevate further negotiations on this matter beyond the IBWC and toward direct engagement with the government of Mexico, and take all other necessary and appropriate action to secure a lasting commitment from Mexico to resolve the current deficit without delay and reach a permanent agreement that better reflects a shared responsibility to U.S. water users," the letter states.


Information from: The Brownsville Herald, http://www.brownsvilleherald.com

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