Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Monday, February 25, 2002


AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced the formation of a Rio Grande Water Rights Task Force, an in-house legal team that will pursue the state's rights and remedies related to Mexico's failure to fulfill its obligations under a 1944 water treaty.

The Attorney General's task force will be chaired by Special Assistant Attorney General Jill Warren. Members will include Special Assistant Attorney General Edna Ramon Butts and assistant attorneys general from the Natural Resources Division, General Counsel Division and the Solicitor General's Office.

"This is a critical issue that affects the border region of Texas which depends on the Rio Grande for adequate water supplies. My legal team will examine every avenue available, both legal and diplomatic, to help ensure that Texans receive the water that Mexico agreed to provide under the 1944 Treaty," Cornyn said.

"We will work with the Texas Secretary of State's Office in interpreting the 1944 treaty, analyzing legal claims, and determining the appropriate forum for resolving the dispute. We want to make sure the state's interests are fully represented before the International Boundary and Water Commission and the U.S. State Department," Cornyn said.

The water transfer shortfall is causing hardship for South Texas farmers, citrus growers and other water users and pushing them into economic distress and even bankruptcy.

The Attorney General's water rights task force will coordinate with citizens and business owners, local and county entities, and with other state offices and agencies, including the Governor's Office, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission and the Texas Water Development Board.

For the past 10 years, Mexico has failed to fulfill its obligations to transfer the amount of water prescribed in a 1944 treaty to the Rio Grande for use by Texas. The 1944 treaty requires that one-third of the water flow reaching the main channel of the Rio Grande from five specified tributaries shall be allotted to the United States. Mexico currently owes Texas more than 1.4 million acre-feet of water.

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