MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday that his government reached an agreement with the United States, allowing Mexico to meet its treaty obligation to provide water to the neighboring country without causing shortages south of the border.
AMLO, as the Mexican leader is known, thanked US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for “their understanding and solidarity” in the face of Mexico’s difficulties in complying with the 1944 Treaty for the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande.
The settlement materialized two days before Mexico would have been subject to penalties for non-compliance.
“If we need water for human consumption, they (the US) will provide it and if we have a situation of severe drought, they will also help us,” AMLO said at his daily morning press conference.
Without mentioning him by name, the president accused Javier Corral, governor of the border state of Chihuahua, of holding back water owed to the US for political reasons with an eye toward next year’s gubernatorial election.
Corral claims that Chihuahua’s farmers and ranchers need the water and his supporters have clashed with Mexican military units sent to the state to ensure compliance with the treaty.
The 1944 treaty requires Mexico to deliver 2.16 billion cubic meters of water to US every five years, while the US must provide its southern neighbor with 9.25 billion cubic meters on the same schedule.
After months of non-compliance by Chihuahua, Mexico is now 366 million cubic meters of water in arrears to the US with just weeks left in the current five-year cycle.
AMLO was joined at the briefing by Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who called the 1944 pact one of the great achievements of Mexican diplomacy and said that failure to live up to the treaty was “jeopardizing the supply of water to the (Mexican) border cities.”
Blanca Jimenez, director of the National Water Commission, said that Mexico will discharge the debt to the US with its portion of the water contained in international reservoirs in the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Tamaulipas.
The water supply for Mexico’s 13 border cities “is guaranteed,” she said.
Mexico will still have 87 million cubic meters of water at its disposal in the reservoirs shared with the US, according to Roberto Velasco, the head of the North America section in the Foreign Relations Secretariat.