Lingering drought means water shortage on the border

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by ANGELA KOCHERGA

WFAA Border Bureau

Posted on June 9, 2013 at 9:59 PM

EL PASO — The Rio Grande is a source of life up and down Texas-Mexico border. Farmers depend on the water to irrigate their fields.

"I just wish we had more of it," said Indar Singh, who in his younger days once farmed 170 acres.

Now he's struggling to keep 25 acres moist.

The lingering drought means there's less Rio Grande water being released from the dam up river. Farmers in this region used to get enough to irrigate as many as six times annually.

This year, they get just one shot.

"Unless there was just a big old storm to fill up the dam," Singh noted.

The U.S. and Mexico share water from the Rio Grande, and as the drought deepens, a fight looms.

Mexico now owes the U.S. water. During the drought, Mexico has failed to release its share of water into the Rio Grande as required under a bilateral treaty.

No one in these parts can remember when the Rio Grande has been lower. Things are so bad, there are sandbars in the middle of the waterway. The Rio Grande is at its lowest point in nearly 100 years.

"If the water was flowing regularly, they wouldn't be able to be walking inside the river like that as they are," said David Garcia, who represents the el Paso County Water Improvement District.

"You know, I prayed... I mean to every saint I can think of," Singh said.

Farmers along the river are praying for rain to replenish the Rio Grande.

But some farmers won't get any river water for irrigation, and some small communities which rely on the Rio Grande for drinking water are on alert.

E-mail akocherga@wfaa.com

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