Home>Articles>Rosen and Cortez Masto Vote Against Protecting NV Water Rights

Record low levels at Lake Mead expose white rocks. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Rosen and Cortez Masto Vote Against Protecting NV Water Rights

In three years, Mexico has delivered less than 25 percent of water to the US than what is established by the 1944 Treaty

By Megan Barth, November 3, 2023 12:41 pm

This article has been updated with comment to The Globe from Senator Rosen’s campaign 

Nevada senators Catherine Cortez-Masto and Jacky Rosen voted against a bipartisan amendment to protect Nevada water rights in the Colorado River. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) proposed amendment 1249 which directs the State Department to use the voice, vote, diplomatic capital and resources of the U.S. to ensure that U.S. diplomats and U.S. officials of the International Boundary and Water Commission are able to advance efforts seeking compliance by Mexico to meet its obligations to comply with the 1944 Treaty on Utilization of Water’s and the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande.

Sen. Cortez Masto looks out over Hoover Dam over concerns about drought impacting Lake Mead (Photo: @SenCortezMasto)

According to Inside Climate News, Mexico “is even further behind on water deliveries in this cycle than it was in 2020.”

On average, the U.S. must receive 350,000 acre-feet of water annually over five-year cycles from the six tributaries covered by the agreement. As of Sept. 23, near the end of the third year of the cycle, Mexico had delivered less than 400,000 acre-feet of water to the U.S. In three years, Mexico has supplied less than a quarter of what it owes, rather than 60 percent.

Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after a bipartisan majority of senators voted to support his Texas water rights amendment, even though the vote fell short of overcoming a filibuster:

Texans are suffering from acute water shortages, and the U.S. has had a long-standing water-sharing treaty with Mexico to address this. Yet Mexico routinely fails to meet its obligations, and Texas ranchers and communities suffer because of it.

I am proud to lead the fight to require American diplomats and officials, including at the International Boundary and Water Commission, to use every diplomatic tool at their disposal to bring Mexico into compliance. Today a substantial bipartisan majority of senators voted to support this common-sense legislation, and I will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion with my colleagues to address the crisis that Lone Star State farmers and ranchers face, which is driven in part by Mexico’s noncompliance.

Southern Nevada gets about 90 percent of its water from the Colorado River. The entire state consumed 225,000 acre-feet of water from the river in 2022 and has taken aggressive measures to reduce its overall water consumption through programs like paying residents to remove their thirsty grass, limiting the size of swimming pools, and increasing taxes/fees on single family home water use.

The Biden administration funneled over $250 million dollars into western states to “keep water in Lake Mead.” The funding was provided through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As Rosen notes in the tweet above, “we must do what it takes to protect Nevada’s access to water.” Making Mexico abide by a 1944 treaty is seemingly not included.

To note, Arizona also has water rights in the Colorado River, and Senator Kirsten Sinema (I-AZ) voted in support of the amendment.

Captain Sam Brown who is leading in the polls to challenge Rosen for a critical senate seat told The Globe:

Every Nevadan should be appalled that Senator Rosen has once again prioritized Mexico over America. She has refused to secure our borders and now she’s refusing to fight for water resources. This common sense, bipartisan amendment should have been an easy “yes” vote for Jacky Rosen. Instead, we see that she fails to comprehend the grave future we face if our water shortage issues are not addressed and Mexico is not held accountable. Jacky Rosen’s vote against water security is not just a dereliction of duty – it’s a deep betrayal of the people of Nevada and America.”

Senator Rosen’s campaign told The Globe:

Senator Rosen voted against this amendment in order to protect Nevadans’ water interests, which Texas has been trying to sacrifice for its own gain. The Ted Cruz amendment would’ve boosted Texas’s water interests and harmed Colorado River States like Nevada, which is why the Southern Nevada Water Authority opposed it. Senator Rosen is not going to let Texas use Nevada and the Colorado River as leverage in its fight with Mexico over an entirely different river system.”



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