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U.S., Mexico agree to Review Joint Aqueduct

By Sandra Dibble
The San Diego Union Tribune, October 15, 1999

TIJUANA -- Hoping to save money and solve a common problem, Mexico and the United States agreed yesterday to study the possibility of building a joint aqueduct to carry Colorado River water to the region.

Top water officials from both countries lauded the accord during a signing ceremony in Tijuana's Rio Zone. The agreement clears the way for a binational study to look at routes for the proposed aqueduct that could pass through Mexico and/or the United States.

"San Diego and Tijuana share more than a border," said Mike Madigan, a director of the San Diego County Water Authority. "We share a common source of water."

The study is being carried out under the auspices of the International Boundary and Water Commission, which administers boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico.

The study will take up to 18 months and is expected to begin before the end of the year. It will consider such subjects as construction and operating costs, funding alternatives, seismic risks and environmental questions.

California is providing $2.5 million for the study, and the San Diego County Water Authority is funding the remaining $500,000. Mexico will provide staffing, project management and other in-kind services.

Both Tijuana and San Diego anticipate increased water needs in the coming years. Planners say that Tijuana's demand is expected to overtake supply in 2004, while San Diego will need new sources by 2008.

Though the principal aim of the study is finding ways to ensure the long-term water supply, it also will look at short-term ways to meet water demand, said José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, head of Baja California's State Water Commission.

The agreement, signed by the Mexican and U.S. commissioners of the IBWC, is an example of growing binational cooperation on water supply along the border, Mexican Commissioner Arturo Herrera said.

Along the Texas border, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez have been studying ground-water supplies to meet future demand in that region.