McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The head of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission came to South Texas on Wednesday to inform border landowners of various federal and state programs as high heat and drought continue to threaten the Rio Grande Valley.
USIBWC Commissioner Maria-Elena Giner oversaw a meeting held Wednesday evening in Weslaco, Texas, “to review how the Valley’s irrigation districts are coping with the water supply challenges they told me about, and how we can continue to help,” she said.
She was joined at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center meeting by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner of Operations David Palumbo; U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Gloria Montaño Greene; and representatives from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Texas Water Development Board.
Available programs and grants discussed for farmers, ranchers and landowners included disaster assistance, loans, risk management programs and conservation initiatives.
“Drought is extremely complex, and partnerships and efforts like this one are critically important as we leverage resources and best practices to help mitigate the impacts of droughts on agricultural lands. For any producers impacted by drought, we encourage them to connect with their local USDA Service Center to learn about our programs that can help them recover and prepare for the future,” Montaño Greene said.
Since 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program has funded $93 million for over 250 long-term water conservation projects, including several in the Rio Grande Valley.
“The Rio Grande Basin provides critical economic and ecosystem benefits to large areas in the United States and Mexico. Our partnership with the IBWC and our local, state, and NGO partners continues to be a high priority for Reclamation and the Department of the Interior. Stakeholder meetings like this one present an excellent opportunity for people representing diverse interests to come together with a common goal of working collaboratively to address the water resource needs of the Rio Grande,” Palumbo said.
For several weeks, triple-digit temperatures have been the daily norm for most of the Rio Grande Valley.
The Texas Water Development Board reported moderate drought conditions in Starr and Zapata counties, with abnormally dry conditions this week in western Hidalgo County.
Drought conditions in the region reached historic levels in summer 2022, and officials say they want to help locals do whatever is necessary to preserve and stretch water resources along the Rio Grande.