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Drought May Impact Water Rates

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Posted: Feb 25, 2013 6:35 PM

Updated: May 22, 2013 3:32 PM

WESLACO - The persistent drought affecting the Rio Grande Valley may cause water rates to increase, officials said.

Irrigation districts are running too low and some may run out of the vital fluid in the next two months, officials said.

Some districts already have received a 60-day notice informing them they will run out of water. The irrigation districts help carry water to several Valley cities.

The districts also supply water used for farming.

One farmer said the water shortage may prevent him from plating again.

"I don't know what's going to happen. It's a little worrisome," Wesley Valerius said. He opted for sorghum because it requires less water.

"As far as our corn and sorghum crop ... (I) will be able to make it through. But if we don't get rain or any inflows to our reservoirs throughout this tropical season, we won't have anything for a fall crop on 2014," Valerius said.

The water shortage also may affect municipalities. Irrigation districts carry water from the Rio Grande to the cities. If the districts run out, the water will be stuck in the river.

"If we don't have irrigation water, we don't have the conveyance of municipal water," Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Permian Basin Area Director David Ramirez said.

The irrigation districts affected include Cameron County's 9 and 2, Hidalgo County's 9, 3 and 16, Delta Lake and Donna.

State authorities met with water district administrators to explore the options available.

"Part of this meeting is to find out how this will all work out. It's never been done before. We're exploring all of the options and bringing in the municipalities and districts to open up the options that are available to them," Ramirez said.

Valerius said the drought prompted his decision to change crops.

"We just basically bought ourselves time," he said.

"(It) takes three waterings to make a corn crop ... minimum. With sorghum we can get by with two," Valerius said.

His fields now run 75 percent sorghum. But even that will not be possible if water doesn't come, he said.

State officials asked the International Boundary and Water Commission for help.

Mexico owes the U.S. water. But they are keeping it in their own reservoirs because of the drought, officials said.

Topics: water, wesley valerius, david ramirez, tceq, ibwc

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