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Water war brews on Mexico, U.S. border

Water war brews on Mexico, U.S. border

Government lawyers are urging a federal appeals court to allow a section of a canal separating California and Mexico to be lined with cement to stop millions of gallons of water from seeping south of the border each year.
The lining is proposed along a portion of the 132-kilometer All-American Canal that delivers Colorado River water to crop land on both sides of the border 160 kilometers east of San Diego.
The U.S. government says Mexico already gets 1.8 trillion liters of Colorado River water legitimately each year under a 1944 treaty and isn't entitled to the seepage, which provides a farming lifeline in Mexico.
A Justice Department attorney told a panel of three appellate judges on Monday that Mexicans have no right to the water, which is also the lifeblood for 200,000 hectares of U.S. farmland.
The lining project will provide enough water for 135,000 new homes in the San Diego area.
The San Francisco-based appeals court temporarily blocked construction of the US$210 million, lining in August after Mexican business interests and U.S. environmental groups sued.
The lawsuit claims there would be significant job losses on the Mexican side of the border as thousands of hectares of crops would turn to dust, that Mexican wells would become polluted without the seepage and migratory birds would be threatened if wetlands disappeared.
R. Gaylord Smith, an attorney for Consejo de Desarrollo Economico de Mexicali, a Mexican business group, argued that the U.S. has abandoned rights to the water.
Judge Sidney Thomas said the U.S. might have abandoned the water, but that doesn't mean "somebody else acquires it."
Colorado River water first flowed to California's arid southeast in 1901 on the Alamo Canal, which dipped into Mexico. California farmers soon decided they needed a canal completely within the United States, leading to completion of the All-American in 1942.


Updated : 2021-10-26 05:27 GMT+08:00