Govt close to paying water debt to US

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Monday, July 11, 2005

Mexico is about to pay off its water debt to the US after managing to free up more than 617M cu m in the last nine months, newspaper El Universal reported.

The country now owes 210M cu m, according to the Mexico-US International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC).

Mexico has amply fulfilled its commitments outlined in the agreement signed last March between US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice and Mexican foreign secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez, the IBWC was quoted as saying.

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Under the accord, Mexico has until September 30 this year to conclude its water payments to the US.

On September 30 last year Mexico owed some 884M cu m of water to its northern neighbor, which was just under half of what it owed in 2001.

Under the water use treaty of the Tijuana, Colorado and Bravo rivers, signed between the two nations in 1944, Mexico is obliged to send the US 432M cu m of water each year from the Bravo river and the US must hand Mexico 1.85B cu m from the Colorado river as the river basins are shared.

The treaty is applied in five-year cycles, where at the end of a period, if one country owes the other water, it must be paid off in the following cycle.

Due to a period of droughts in northern Mexico in the 1990s, the country was unable to make the payments, which generated a debt of 2.1B cu m in 2001. However, abundant rains since 2003 have made it possible for Mexico to advance with payment of water debts, as well as meet normal commitments.