Lack of rain could mean return of water restrictions across the Valley

1 month 1 week 6 days ago Tuesday, August 08 2023 Aug 8, 2023 August 08, 2023 10:56 PM August 08, 2023 in News - Local

It's been a dry summer throughout the entire Rio Grande Valley.

Farmers are being affected by the heat conditions as they’re forced to ration water for the second straight growing season in a row. 

“We were very tight on irrigation,” Lyford farmer Travis Johnson said. “We were having to be very strategic on when we use the water because it was such a precious commodity this year."

This year, just as last year, the irrigation companies are limiting how much water farmers are able to draw from the river.

Johnson said farmers watered their crop twice this year. Ideally, they would have done it five times.

Rain has also been scarce.

The Falcon and Amistad dams — the main source of water for the RGV — had a combined water storage of nearly 25.6% as of Friday, Aug. 4.

Storage levels have been dropping every week, Region M Water Planning Group Chair Jim Darling said.

“We're losing about .73 percent per week, “Darling said. 

Valley cities base their water conservation ordinances on the storage levels, and water restrictions begin going into effect once the levels drop to 25%.

The Rio Grande is fed in large part by Mexican rivers, and a treaty calls for Mexico to provide water to the U.S. every five years.

This is currently the third year of that cycle, but Valley farmers like Johnson want Mexico to release water it has stored in its dams now, when it's needed most.

“We're going to be really dependent on Mexico as it gets lower and lower,” Darling said.

The U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission — which oversees the treaty and the Rio Grande — says it's working on a new agreement with Mexico to improve reliability of water deliveries.

The agreement is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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