Dating back to 1848, water sharing is one of the longest-standing areas of bilateral cooperation between Mexico and the United States. Agreements reached in 1906 and 1944 formalized water cooperation between the two countries, most importantly by regulating water flows and cross-border deliveries of the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers. While this cooperation runs smoothly most of the time, lower water volumes in border rivers, along with periods of intense drought, lead to strained relations. Most recently, disputes broke out in 2020 and 2021. The two countries will revisit the shared water rules next year.
The current droughts in North America have caused concern about economic losses and public water supplies. The U.S. drought area affects states producing wheat, corn and to a lesser extent soy. It also significantly affects cotton production and ranching activities. In Mexico, the government has declared a water emergency in all northern states. At-risk industries include irrigated agriculture, ranching, mining, tourism, bottled beverages and possibly the automobile factories.
Get the Geopolitical Futures FREE newsletter