U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Mexico's Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada announced this month the successful completion by the United States-Mexico International Boundary and Water Commission of the IBWC's ""Minute 318," an agreement for adjusting water deliveries on the Colorado River to areas in Mexico damaged by a devastating earthquake on April 4, 2010.
Following their meeting in Mexico City on December 20th, the Secretaries also emphasized the commitment of their governments to undertake, in January 2011, high-priority discussions on a comprehensive long-term agreement between the United States and Mexico on the management of the Colorado River.
"Through this water agreement, the U.S. and Mexico, and the seven Colorado River Basin [U.S.] states are bringing resources together for our mutual benefit and for the benefit of our neighbors whose irrigation systems and livelihoods have been damaged by the Easter Sunday earthquake," said Secretary Salazar. "Minute 318," he noted, "is a remarkable achievement from a humanitarian perspective, but it also lays important groundwork for a much-needed comprehensive water agreement with Mexico on how we manage the Colorado River."
"Water users and stakeholders up and down the Colorado River have a strong interest in a comprehensive water agreement that would enhance reliability, certainty, and efficiency of water deliveries," said U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor, who coordinated U.S. federal government efforts with the seven U.S. Colorado River basin states to complement the negotiation by the U.S. and Mexican Commissioners of the International Boundary and Water Commission of the Minute 318 agreement.
Under Minute 318, Mexico will be able to temporarily defer delivery of a portion of its annual Colorado River water allotment while repairs are made to the irrigation system in the Mexicali Valley of Baja California as a result of an April 4, 2010 earthquake. This agreement is founded on the 1944 Water Treaty between the U.S. and Mexico, under which, Mexico is allotted a guaranteed quantity of Colorado River water each year.
Secretaries Salazar and Elvira identified the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement as a top priority for 2011. The United States looks forward to working with its partner Mexico to reach a comprehensive agreement on managing this precious natural resource.