Farmers protest against Mexico’s intended release of Rio Grande water to United States

9 Nov 2023 by The Water Diplomat

Farmers in Chihuahua State in Mexico have approached the government to reserve water for irrigation rather than releasing it in order to comply with a treaty obligation to share water with the United States. In 2020, protestors occupied the site of the La Boquilla Dam to protest an impending release of some 36 million m³ of water from the reservoir. Technical reports of accumulated water deliveries from Mexico over the past five years showed a shortfall which, under the terms of the Treaty, was to be met by the 24th of October. Mexico has reportedly relied on waters downstream of the dam to meet its treaty obligations rather than making us of reservoir water.

The Treaty, which dates from 1944, sets out the principles for the allocation of the waters of the Rio Grande between Mexico and the United States and establishes an International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) to apply the terms of the Treaty and settle differences between the countries that arise as river conditions fluctuate. The amount of water reaching the flow of the main channel of the river that is to be released to the United States by Mexico at least once every five years is well defined. However, in terms of article four of the Treaty, in the event of extraordinary drought or serious accident to the hydraulic works on the Mexican tributaries of the river, preventing Mexico from adhering to the terms of the agreement, Mexico reserves the right to make up this deficit in the course of the following five-year cycle.