Interior Secretary Salazar and Reclamation Commissioner Connor Join
U.S. and Mexico Delegations for
Historic Colorado River Water Agreement Ceremony
Department of the Interior Press Release 11/20/12
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today joined U.S. and Mexico delegations in San Diego, California, at an official signing ceremony of Minute 319 to the 1944 Treaty with Mexico – an historic binational agreement to guide future management of the Colorado River through 2017. The agreement was developed and facilitated by the U.S. and Mexico Sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC).
“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of local communities from the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the mouth at the Sea of Cortez, supplying water for millions of Americans, irrigating our farms, and helping to power our cities and towns,” said Salazar. “The Department of the Interior recognizes the many challenges facing the Colorado River, and this binational agreement demonstrates our shared commitment to cooperation and partnership to protect and promote its future.”
As part of the ongoing dialogue on Colorado River issues, delegations from the United States and Mexico have been working over the past three years to reach an agreement on a set of cooperative measures for management for the next five years. Salazar joined principals to the agreement from the seven Colorado River Basin states, representatives from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. IBWC Commissioner Edward Drusina, Mexico IBWC Commissioner Roberto F. Salmon, and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor to commemorate the effort.
“After years of discussions, Minute 319 demonstrates our common commitment and the potential opportunities for future cooperation between the United States and Mexico on water conservation, system operations, environmental restoration, and new water sources projects,” said Commissioner Connor. “Today’s action builds on our past collaborative efforts and is a true testament to the power of patience and persistence.” (The entire text of the Commissioner's speech can be seen here.)
The five-year agreement approved by both governments provides for a series of joint cooperative actions between the United States and Mexico. Elements of the agreement include:
Implementing efforts to enhance water infrastructure and promote sharing, storing, and conserving water as needed during both shortages and surpluses;
Establishing proactive basin operations by applying water delivery reductions when Lake Mead resorvoir conditions are low in order to deter more severe reductions in the future;
Extending humanitarian measures from a 2010 agreement, Minute 318, to allow Mexico to defer delivery of a portion of its Colorado River allotment while it continues to make repairs to earthquake-damaged infrastructure;
Establishing a program of Intentionally Created Mexican Allocation (ICMA) whereby Mexico could temporarily reduce its order of Colorado River water, allowing that water to be delivered to Mexico in the future; and
Promoting the ecological health of the Colorado River Delta.
Signed by all parties today, Minute 319 becomes effective immediately. Many of the projects and programs outlined in the agreement will be implemented through the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region. The Lower Colorado Region manages the final 688 miles of the Colorado River on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior.