Harvesting corn in Baja California. Harvesting corn in Baja California.

BC farmers condemn water sale to US

Boundary commission offices occupied in Mexicali

Dozens of farmers from the state of Baja California set up camp yesterday in the car park of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) in the capital of Mexicali to protest against a federal government plan to sell water to the United States.

The farmers say they were not consulted about a plan that would see 300 million cubic meters of water head across the border.  The government says that the money it receives from the sale of the water will be spent on agricultural infrastructure, but the farmers remain opposed.

When Mexicali IBWC representative Francisco Bernal arrived to speak with the latter, they urged him not to sign the agreement but no agreement was reached.

Farmers’ leader Rigoberto Campos said the amount of water the government is planning to send north will have a significant impact on agriculture in the Mexicali Valley.

The amount available for irrigation will be reduced, he said, claiming as well that the way in which the deal was made was unfair.

He described it as a water sale from Mexico to the U.S. that for the first time was going to change the 1944 water treaty.

Campos also said the U.S. was likely to profit from the sale.

“They are offering US $137.50 per acre-foot of water when they will resell it to San Diego, California, probably for commercial use, at US $1,500 per acre-foot.”

Another farmer who participated in the occupation of the IBWC facilities said the amount of water he received had already been reduced in 2003 by 15 liters per hectare and now they wanted to take another five.

“I’m here because my alfalfa is drying out. They’re not giving me water because there isn’t any,” Sergio Chávez said.

He added that the proposed infrastructure to be funded by the water sale would be worthless if there wasn’t enough water.

“I ask them, where’s the water?”

Source: Reforma (sp)

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