Jan 222011

In an earlier post, we described a 1944 treaty that guaranteed Mexico would receive at least 1750 million cubic meters of water  each year along the Colorado River (via the Morelos diversionary dam in the Mexicali Valley). However, in April 2010, the Mexicali area was rattled by a large earthquake, so powerful that it moved the southern part of California,  and severely damaged the irrigation infrastructure used by Mexican farmers on land in the lower Colorado River valley and the Colorado River delta. In all, 640 kilometers of irrigation canals were damaged, affecting 60,000 hectares of farmland.

The damaged infrastructure meant that Mexico was unable to use effectively its total annual allocation of water. Even as urgent repairs were begun on pumps, pipelines and irrigation channels in the Mexicali region, Mexican authorities opened talks with the USA to discuss the possibility of deferring receipt of  some of their annual water quota.

The two governments have now agreed “Minute 318” which permits Mexico to decrease its consumption from 2010 to 2013 and then receive the “saved” water later when the irrigation channels are all operational again.

Another major related development concerning the Colorado River is also now getting underway. The two governments are starting talks this year towards a comprehensive new long-term bilateral agreement covering the management of the Colorado River.

Mexico’s water resources and water-related issues are the subject of chapters 6 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Ask your library to buy a copy of this handy reference guide to all aspects of Mexico’s geography today! Better yet, order your own copy…

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