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Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with reporters as he and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters meet with reporters at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Cliff Owen/AP Photo)

This letter was sent to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Dear Secretary Blinken:

We, the undersigned members of a bipartisan delegation of state legislators representing the U.S.-Mexico border region, are writing to express our deep concern regarding the ongoing challenges related to water delivery and the apparent non-compliance with the 1944 Water treaty between the United States and Mexico. As representatives from the South Texas region, we believe it is imperative to address this matter urgently to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of water resources in accordance with the agreements established more than seven decades ago.

In our fast-growing region, development is beginning to slow, with numerous communities lacking the water supplies to service new customers. Just last month, we learned that our state’s last sugar mill located here in the Rio Grande Valley was shutting down because of dwindling water supplies. This closure ends production on an estimated 40,000 acres of land, leaving hundreds of Valley residents without jobs.

The 1944 Water treaty, also known as the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande (known as the “treaty”), was crafted to facilitate cooperation and allocation of water resources between the United States and Mexico. We are disappointed to observe a persistent shortfall in the delivery of water to our region, specifically an average of 350,000 acre-feet annually, as stipulated in the treaty.

The scarcity of water in our region has far-reaching implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and communities on both sides of the border. We recognize the importance of maintaining diplomatic relations and upholding international agreements. It is equally crucial, however, that we honor our commitments to our neighbors and ensure the sustainable use of shared resources.

We strongly urge the U.S. State Department to take immediate and effective action to rectify the situation, ensuring the delivery of the agreed-upon 350,000 acre-feet of water each year to the United States. We also request transparent communication and collaboration between the federal government, state governments, and relevant stakeholders to address any challenges hindering the fulfillment of obligations under the treaty.

Our shared environment and the well-being of our communities depend on the responsible and equitable management of water resources. By upholding the principles outlined in the 1944 water treaty, we can foster cooperation, goodwill, and sustainable development in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

State senators: Judith Zaffirini, District 21; Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, District 20; Morgan LaMantia, District 27.

State representatives: Ryan Guillen, District 31; Armando “Mando” Martinez, District 39; Sergio Muñoz Jr., District 36; R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, District 41; Oscar Longoria, District 35; Terry Canales, District 40; Erin Gámez, District 38.