The Rio Grande no longer reaches the sea. In fact, it falls almost a hundred yards short, a telling illustration of the water crisis that threatens the river and the cross-border region that depends on it for survival. Years of drought and a population explosion on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border have strained limited water supplies, and the region has no real water policy, short of praying for regular hurricanes. Theoretically, Mexico is supposed to send about 350,000 acre-feet of water every year into the Rio Grande from its major tributary, the Rio Conchos, while the U.S. is supposed to release 1.5 million acre-feet of water annually from the Colorado River into the Rio Grande. But Mexico is more than 1.5 million acre-feet in arrears, much to the dismay of U.S. farmers. Some believe Mexico is hoarding the water for its own agriculture industry, but Mexico claims there’s simply no leftover water to be had.
Get Grist in your inbox