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US and Mexico: Drought



I apologize for my careless use of words. Jaqui White writes: "I AM VERY, VERY UPSET THAT YOU SHOULD REPORT IN YOUR 5-19-02 POSTING THAT "...but Jaqui argues that even so the Mexicans are cheating." I NEVER, EVER used the word "cheating" nor would I ever. I stated that satellite photos showed a great deal of green areas in the Chihuahua area, whereas on the US side of the Border we are brown and barren. The reason that Mexico has not repaid our water is that they are in the same shape we are. Our farmers are saying that we purchase their produce by the truckload, and they feel that these crops were irrigated by OUR water; therefore, Thursday the farmers and ranchers are going to congregate at the Pharr bridge to protest the non-payment of water, and to discuss a possible blockade of the bridge to prevent the Mexican produce from entering the US.

It is widely known that the Southwestern part of the US, the Rio Grande Valley, and the area north and south of the Rio Grande Valley has suffered devastating drought conditions for the last four years. I shall not repeat the information concerning the 1944 treaty, which you posted.

The epicenter of conflict is Delicias, Mexico in southern Chihuahua, which is the fifth largest irrigation district in Mexico. The Rio Conchos Basin used to be lush and fruitful. 80% of the land has gone fallow, and 40% of the farmers have given up. For every acre of verdant land there are seven acres of dead land. The area denies it is hoarding water. Their system of irrigation is not efficient - they flood their crops and orchards, which is wasteful and outdated. In essence, they have taken a desert and turned it into lush orchards and dairies, but this was during the time when rainfall was normal.

The capacities of the irrigation reservoirs both in Mexico and the US are only 25% of capacity, so both countries are irrigating far less than they ever have. In our Pharr area, irrigation, as of today, has been cut off completely.

There are ways to modernize the irrigation systems in Mexico to greatly reduce seepage and evaporation, but it is not only very costly, but will take a great deal of time. It has been suggested that the US contribute $420 million to this modernization, which has our farmers and ranchers irate. In the long run it would enable Mexico to repay our water, but in the meanwhile our crops are gone, and our farmers and ranchers out of business. Over a ten year period it is estimated that it would cost $60 billion to renovate Mexico's water infrastructure.

In the area where I live there used to be huge shallow lakes which obtained their water from rainfall. For the past few years they have been completely dry. Since we have strong breezes all the time, the dust blows directly over Port Isabel, Laguna Heights, and Laguna Vista. It is so severe that it is difficult to see to drive. The air conditioners of the schools are plugged with dust, and their cooling bills have skyrocketed. These lakes are north of Brownsville, so now they plan to cut into the ship channel which joins the Port of Brownsville with the Gulf of Mexico to allow the water of the Gulf to flow in and fill the lakes. They will be brackish, but at least it will reduce radically the dust problem.

People complain bitterly of the drought, with reason, but I feel that they tend to forget that this area is a desert, where the average rainfall is forty days per year, meaning that 325 days a year there IS no rain, even in the best if times. Perhaps the area is not fit for human habitation. Please, Ronald, be so kind as to rescind your posting about "cheating," since it is not only completely inaccurate, but extremely unfair. Weather knows no borders, both Mexico and the US are in severe drought conditions"

My response: Again, I apologize, but I cannot find one word to express the Mexican attitude. Perhaps I should have said that "some Texans accuse the Mexicans of cheating".

Ronald Hilton - 5/21/02


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