WESLACO, Texas – On the eve of a visit to the Rio Grande Valley by the leadership of the U.S. side of the International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar has announced increased funding for the agency.
The U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) is a federal government agency and the U.S. component of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), which applies the boundary and water treaties of the United States and Mexico and settles differences that may arise in their application.
The USIBWC is headed by Commissioner Maria-Elena Giner. Giner is slated to visit the Valley on Wednesday July 19.
Cuelllar, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said funding for the IBWC will bolster South Texas water quality and security.
Cuellar said he secured nearly $147 million for the IBWC in the Fiscal Year 2024 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs House appropriations bill. He said this is an increase of $36 million – or nearly 25 percent – over the previous year’s funding level.
“One of the things that I did even as our Republican colleagues we’re cutting everywhere – I think they’re going to cut about $131 billion – I was able to get an increase of over $36 million to the International Boundary and Water Commission. That’s almost a 25 percent increase,” Cuellar said, in a webinar with news reporters.
“The reason this is important is… the International Boundary and Water Commission will be able to – and I put some language (in the appropriations bill) specifically (for this) – there’ll be able to improve the predictability and reliability of water delivery fees for the border.”
In addition to the funding increase, Congressman Cuellar secured language directing the IBWC to work on the following projects:
• Improving the predictability and reliability of water deliveries to South Texas communities;
• Implementing the Lower Rio Grande Flood Control Project, which provides protection against floods for 920,000 Texans in Webb, Zapata, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy, and Cameron Counties;
• Protecting South Texas communities from the release of effluent from Mexico;
• Reducing sediment levels and eradicating carrizo cane;
• Processing additional land management and grazing leases, licenses, and permits for South Texas cattle farms; and,
• Developing better water conservation practices and new sources of water.
“The Rio Grande River is the lifeblood of South Texas. With prolonged droughts and concerns about maintaining enough water to support our communities, the need to secure our water is more pressing than ever. The IBWC helps ensure that the Rio Grande will remain a stable source of water,” Cuellar said.
“The IBWC previously helped secure equipment to dredge Falcon Lake and ensure continued access to water for Zapata County and surrounding areas. I thank IBWC Commissioner Dr. Maria-Elena Giner for her important role in leading the organization, and I look forward to continuing our work together. Thank you to Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart and Ranking Member Barbara Lee for working with me to deliver this important funding. I will continue to fight for secured access to water in our border communities.”
Commission Giner is slated to give the opening remarks at what is being dubbed a “Federal-State Stakeholder Meeting.” It takes place at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center’s main building auditorium in Weslaco on July 19. The meeting is scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. and finish at 5:00 p.m.
Other agencies to be featured at the stakeholder meeting are the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Water Development Board.
The address of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center is 2415 E. Highway 83, Weslaco, TX 78596.
For more information about the stakeholder meeting call Esther Cortez, public affairs assistant for USIBWC at 915-317-5915. Or, email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are Rep. Cuellar’s remarks about the IBWC during the webinar:
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