2006 Regional Plan
- Municipal population will more than triple, to over 3.8 million, by
- Municipal water demand, now about 230,000 acre-feet (AF) per year
is projected to swell to almost 626,000 AF/year.
- Conventional supplies of water from the Amistad and Falcon reservoir
System on the Rio Grande will diminish, declining from1.12 million AF/year
to 1.08 million AF/yr in 2060.
- Unless water management strategies are implemented, water users will
be short nearly 600,000 AF/yr by 2060.
- The total price tag to cover initial capital costs for implementing
all recommended strategies totals more than $13 billion.
- Annual costs for proposed water management strategies total $152 million
for municipal strategies and $82 million for irrigation strategies.
- Municipal water suppliers comprise the overwhelming majority of users
needing additional supplies over the next 50 years. But advanced municipal
water conservation, the cheapest water management strategy identified,
will yield only 19,000 AF/year.
- Improvements in agricultural water use can produce the most significant
water savings at the most economical costs. More than 438,000 AF/yr
could be saved in irrigation systems and on-farm improvements, compared
to less than 325,000 AF/yr in savings from municipal strategies.
- While municipal projects can readily access state and federal funding
sources, few similar options exist for agricultural projects: only 10
percent of irrigation system conveyance improvements and only 40 percent
of on-farm improvements can be funded locally.
- Further evaluation, local buy-in, and funding are needed to implement
recommended water management strategies.
GRAPHS (will open in a pop-up
The Planning Group found that by 2060, the area’s population
is projected to more than triple, from 1.2 million in the year 2000
to over 3.8 million in the year 2060. This growth will mainly be in
municipal populations. Municipal water usage will likewise swell from
230,000 AF/yr to 626,000 AF/yr. Because water supplies, mainly from
the Amistad and Falcon Reservoir System, will remain steady or slightly
decrease, new water supply strategies need to be found and implemented.
If water needs go unmet, the socioeconomic impact would be considerable:
$2 billion lost in income; 26,000 lost jobs; $75 million lost in taxes.
A multi-pronged plan to meet water supply needs over the next 50 years
• Optimizing available water from the Rio Grande, through
acquisition of water rights
• Diversifying water supplies, potentially through desalination
of sea water or brackish groundwater, and/or developing other mechanisms
for water reuse
• On-farm irrigation conservation measures
• Improvements to irrigation conveyance methods
• Improvements to municipal water conservation
• Ensuring Mexico’s compliance with international water
Total annual implementation costs for the suggested municipal Water
Management Strategies is $152 million, likely to be financed by 40%
bonds, 33% federal government programs, 16% state government programs,
8% cash reserves, and 3% other methods.
Total annual implementation costs for the suggested irrigation Water
Management Strategies is $82 million ($56 million on-farm conservation
and $26 million irrigation conveyance system improvements). The on-farm
conservation strategies are likely to be funded 40% from local sources
and 60% from outside sources. The irrigation conveyance improvements
are likely to be funded 10% from local sources and 90% from outside
Further action is needed before the improvements suggested by the Planning
Group can be implemented. Issues and strategies must face additional
in-depth evaluation by planners and engineers. Local buy-in and action
for implementation are key to success, as the costs of the improvements
are likely to be borne largely by local ratepayers. Finally, funding
will need to be secured. This funding will come from both local ratepayers
and governmental sources. The Planning Group recommends new public funding
sources be developed for the purposes of irrigation conservation programs,
as these programs have long-term benefits for the whole region.
Many of the issues and needs of the region arise from the fact that
the Rio Grande is an international river whose waters are shared by
the U.S. and Mexico. No other regional water planning area faces this
reality. Consequently, the recommendations made by the Rio Grande RWPG
for action to address regional water needs are divided into two categories:
some recommendations fall within the authority of the State of Texas;
others must be addressed through the auspices of the International Boundary
and Water Commission and/or other international and federal agencies.
Summaries of recommendations are presented below.
- The State of Texas should consider factors other than merely population
in funding the planning process in Region M because of the unique
circumstances affecting water supply in the area.
- The State should continue financing brackish groundwater projects
and the demonstration seawater desalination project as means to increase
water supply alternatives in the region.
- The State should authorize the Rio Grande Watermaster to manage
the Rio Grande WAM and should fully appropriate to the Texas Commission
on Environmental Quality fees paid by Rio Grande water right holders.
- The State should assist in finding new technical and financial resources
to help the region combat aquatic weeds and salt cedar and thus protect
its water supplies.
- The State should continue providing technical and financial resources
to fully develop the regional GAM.
- The State should amend the planning process to allow for treating
each irrigation district with the region as a WUG, rather than as
part of “County-Other,” in order to allow for development
of individual water management strategies for the districts.
- The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality should provide assistance
to the Rio Grande RWPG as it reviews rules on converting water rights
from one use to another and considers appropriate rule amendments,
- Entities within the region are encouraged to cooperate to resolve
water issues through such means as regional water and wastewater utilities.
- The formation of groundwater conservation districts is encouraged
as a means to protect groundwater supplies.
- The State should appropriate sufficient funds to the Texas Railroad
Commission to allow for capping abandoned oil and gas wells that threatened
- The Texas Legislature should provide technical and financial assistance
to implement water management strategies identified in the regional
- The Texas Legislature should appropriate funds to continue the
regional water planning process.
- The Texas Legislature should appropriate funds to the Texas Water
Development Board to implement and provide assistance to water user
groups in developing and implementing appropriate Advanced Water Conservation
measure, including a statewide public outreach and education program.
National and International Issues
- The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) should renew
efforts to ensure that Mexico complies with Minute 309 and set in
place means to achieve full compliance with the 1944 Treaty.
- The United States and Mexico should reinforce the powers and duties
of both Sections of the IBWC.
- The Minute 309 conservation projects funded by the North American
Development Bank and other projects funded by national and international
agencies to modernize and improve the facilities of irrigation districts
in the Rio Grande Basin should be supported and given priority.
- The conservation irrigation projects currently underway through
the Bureau of Reclamation for improvement to the irrigation systems
of irrigation districts in the Rio Grande Basin in the United States
should be supported and implemented.
- For purposes of clarity, the IBWC should approve a Minute setting
out the definition of “extraordinary drought.”
- Accounting of water between the United States and Mexico pursuant
to the 1944 Treaty should be consistent with the 1906 Convention.
- For better water management in the Lower Reach of the Rio Grande,
downstream of Anzalduas Dam, both countries should reaffirm operational
policies that Mexico continue to take its share of waters through
the Anzalduas canal diversion.
- IBWC should convene a binational meeting of water planners and
water use stakeholders in both countries within six months following
completion of the annual water accounting in which an annual deficit
in flows from the named Mexican tributaries in the 1944 Treaty occurs.
- IBWC should restore the Rio Grande below Fort Quitman, Texas.
- The IBWC should assume all local and regional financial responsibility
for upkeep and maintenance of El Morillo Drain.
- IBWC should coordinate bilateral efforts to review and evaluate
existing sources of data regarding groundwater development in both
countries in the Rio Grande Basin below Fort Quitman to the Gulf of
- Regional watershed planning should be encouraged on both sides
of the Rio Grande throughout the basin.
- Interstate compacts between affected states in Mexico should be
A compact disc containing the complete 2006 Water Plan can be purchased
for $10 from LRGVDC:
Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council
311 N. 15th Street
McAllen, Texas - 78501-4705
voice: 956.682.3481 fax: 956.631.4670
Payments must accompany all orders. Checks, cashier's checks and/or
money orders are acceptable. Make payable to LRGVDC, and please allow
up to ten (10) working days for delivery. All prices include postage
Additionally, the complete plan may be viewed at the Texas Water Development
Water Plans web page.