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Mexico Asked to Fulfill Water Pact

October 2, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department issued a public reminder to Mexico on Wednesday that it has fallen far short of delivering to the amount of water from the Rio Grande specified under a 1944 treaty.

Spokesman Philip Reeker urged Mexico to give the issue highest priority.

``Over the past 10 years, the government of Mexico has not delivered sufficient volumes of water from the six Mexico tributaries to the Rio Grande to ensure compliance with its obligations,″ Reeker said.

He said the deficit now totals almost 1.5 million acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is an acre with water, one-foot deep.

Reeker’s statement was prompted by Wednesday’s conclusion of the latest five-year water accounting cycle provided for by the treaty.

Secretary of State Colin Powell raised the issue during a meeting on Monday with Mexican Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda.

In a move that could help pay the water debt, Mexican President Vicente Fox began a series of water conservation measures two weeks ago.

Fox said Mexico would invest $2.2 billion annually in new infrastructure and other measures, especially for the border region, where Mexico’s failure to pay the water debt sparked a dispute earlier this year with U.S. farmers.

Texas farmers have expressed anger that many Mexican farmers use outdated, wasteful irrigation techniques.

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