The U.S. signed a five-year agreement with Mexico today that for the first time guarantees water flow in the Colorado River that empties into the Gulf of California.
Most years, almost all water in the river that stretches 1,450 miles (2,333 kilometers) through five western U.S. states is diverted for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes in the two countries, before it reaches the channel’s mouth in Mexico, according to the Pacific Institute, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit research group.
“We’ve been working for more than 15 years to get water back in the river,” Michael Cohen, a Pacific Institute senior associate, said in the statement. The agreement “is a huge step forward for the embattled Colorado River delta.”
The “Minute 319” pact signed today amends a 1944 water treaty between the U.S. and Mexico involving the Colorado, Tijuana and Rio Grande rivers that included agriculture, fishing and navigation interests, according to the Pacific Institute.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s 2010 visit to Mexico to complete the Minute 318 water agreement led to the current deal, according to a government statement. The first of the so- called Minutes, which cover land-use and water issues between the two countries, was in 1922.
“What we’re doing now in the Colorado River basin provides an international model for how to resolve water issues,” Salazar said today on a conference call. “Together we can ensure to the best of our ability that economies will continue to grow on both sides of the border.”
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