History of the U.S. Section, IBWC (2023)

The IBWC traces its roots to the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Treaty of 1853, which established temporary joint commissions to survey, map, and demarcate with ground landmarks the new United States (U.S.) – Mexico boundary. The Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty of February 2, 1848 established the international boundary between the United States and Mexico. The Treaty of December 30, 1853 reestablished the southern boundary of New Mexico and Arizona to enable the United States to construct a railroad to the west coast along a southern route and to resolve a question arising from the 1848 Treaty as to the location of the southern boundary of New Mexico. The Convention of 1882 established another temporary joint commission to resurvey the western land boundary between the Rio Grande and the Pacific Ocean, rebuild the old monuments, and install additional monuments where necessary. U.S. Commissioner John Whitney Barlow and Mexican Commissioner Jacobo Blanco resurveyed the borderline and increased the number of boundary monuments from 52 to 258. This survey started at the El Paso, Texas – Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua border in 1891, and concluded at the San Diego, California – Tijuana, Baja California border in 1894. Later as border populations increased during the 1900’s, the Commission installed 18 additional boundary monuments for a total of 276.

History of the U.S. Section, IBWC (1)

(Video) IBWC video

As the settlements grew along the boundary rivers (Rio Grande and Colorado River), settlers began developing adjoining lands for agriculture. In the late Nineteenth Century, questions arose as to the location of the boundary and the jurisdiction of lands when the boundary rivers changed their course and transferred land from one side of the river to the other. As a result, the two Governments adopted certain rules to deal with such questions in the Convention of November 12, 1884.

The U.S. and Mexico established the International Boundary Commission (IBC) on March 1, 1889 as another temporary body to apply the rules that were adopted by the Convention of 1884. The IBC was extended indefinitely in 1900 and is considered the direct predecessor to the modern day International Boundary and Water Commission. The 1884 Convention was modified by the Banco Convention of March 20, 1905 to retain the Rio Grande and the Colorado River as the boundary.

As border populations increased during the early to mid 1900's, the Commission was faced with many new challenges. The U.S. and Mexico used studies developed by the IBC as the basis for the first water distribution treaty between the two countries, the Convention of March 1, 1906, which allocated the waters of the Rio Grande from El Paso to Fort Quitman, an 89-mile (143 km) international boundary reach of the Rio Grande through the El Paso-Juárez Valley. This Convention allotted to Mexico 60,000 acre-feet annually of the waters of the Rio Grande to be delivered in accordance with a monthly schedule at the headgate to Mexico's Acequia Madre just above Juárez, Chihuahua. To facilitate such deliveries, the U.S. constructed, at its expense, the Elephant Butte Dam in its territory. The Convention includes the provision that in case of extraordinary drought or serious accident to the irrigation system in the U.S., the amount of water delivered to the Mexican Canal shall be diminished in the same proportion as the water delivered to lands under the irrigation system in the U.S. downstream of Elephant Butte Dam.

(Video) But what does IBWC have anything to do with this?

In the Convention of February 1, 1933, the two Governments agreed to jointly construct, operate and maintain, through the IBC, the Rio Grande Rectification Project, which straightened and stabilized the 155-mile (249 km) river boundary through the highly developed El Paso-Juárez Valley. The project further provided for the control of the river's floods through this Valley.

The IBC was also instrumental in developing the second water distribution treaty between the United States and Mexico in 1944, which addressed utilization of the waters of the Colorado River and Rio Grande from Fort Quitman, Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. The Water Treaty of February 3, 1944 expanded the duties and responsibilities of the IBC and renamed it the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). The 1944 Treaty charged the IBWC with the application of the treaty and the exercise of the rights and obligations which the U.S. and Mexican Governments assumed thereunder and with the settlement of all disputes that were to arise under the treaty.

The 1944 Treaty provides that the jurisdiction of the IBWC extends to the limitrophe parts of the Rio Grande and the Colorado River, the land boundary between the U.S. and Mexico and to works located upon the border. Neither Section is to assume jurisdiction or control over works within the limits of the country of the other without the express consent of the Government of the latter. The works constructed, acquired or used in fulfillment of the provisions of the Treaty and located wholly within the territorial limits of either country, although these works may be international in character, they are to remain under the exclusive jurisdiction and control of the Section of the Commission in whose country the works may be situated.

(Video) International Boundary and Water Commission | Wikipedia audio article

Pursuant to the 1944 Treaty the IBWC has the status of an international body and consists of a United States Section and a Mexican Section. Each Section is headed by an Engineer Commissioner. Wherever there are provisions for joint action or joint agreement of the two Governments or for the furnishing of reports, studies or plans to the two Governments, it is understood that those matters will be handled by or through the Department of State of the United States and the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Mexico. Each Government affords diplomatic status to the Commissioner, designated by the other Government. The Commission, two principal engineers, a legal adviser, and a secretary, designed by each Government as members of its Section of the Commission are entitled in the territory of the other country to the privileges and immunities appertaining to diplomatic officers. The IBWC and its personnel may freely carry out their observations, studies and field work in the territory of the other country. Each Government bears the expenses of its respective Section; joint expenses which may be incurred as agreed by the IBWC are to be born equally by the two Governments.

Of the waters of the Rio Grande, the Treaty allocates to Mexico: (1) all of the waters reaching the main channel of the Rio Grande from the San Juan and Alamo Rivers, including the return flows from the lands irrigated from those two rivers; (2) two-thirds of the flow in the main channel of the Rio Grande from the measured Conchos, San Diego, San Rodrigo, Escondido and Salado Rivers, and the Las Vacas Arroyo, subject to certain provisions; and (3) one-half of all other flows occurring in the main channel of the Rio Grande downstream from Fort Quitman. The Treaty allots to the United States: (1) all of the waters reaching the main channel of the Rio Grande from the Pecos and Devils Rivers, Goodenough Spring and Alamito, Terlingua, San Felipe and Pinto Creeks; (2) one-third of the flow reaching the main channel of the river from the six named measured tributaries from Mexico and provides that this third shall not be less, as an average amount in cycles of five consecutive years, than 350,000 acre-feet annually; and (3) one-half of all other flows occurring in the main channel of the Rio Grande downstream from Fort Quitman.

The 1944 Treaty further provided for the two Governments to jointly construct, operate and maintain on the main channel of the Rio Grande the dams required for the conservation, storage and regulation of the greatest quantity of the annual flow of the river to enable each country to make optimum use of its allotted waters.

(Video) BEFXXV - Part 1

The 1944 Treaty provides that of the waters of the Colorado River there are allotted to Mexico: (1) a guaranteed annual quantity of 1.5 million acre-feet to be delivered in accordance with schedules formulated in advance by Mexico within specified limitations; and (2) any other waters arriving at the Mexican points of diversion under certain understandings. To enable diversion of Mexico's allotted waters, the Treaty provided for the construction by Mexico of a main diversion structure in the Colorado River, below the point where the California-Baja California land boundary line intersects the river. It also provided for the construction at Mexico's expense of such works as may be needed in the U.S. to protect its lands from such floods and seepage as might result from the construction and operation of the diversion structure.

In the 1944 Treaty the two Governments agreed to give preferential attention to the solution of all border sanitation problems.

The Treaty also provides that the IBWC study, investigate and report to the Governments on such hydroelectric facilities as the IBWC finds should be built at the international storage dams and on such flood control works, other than those specified in the Treaty, that the IBWC finds should be built on the boundary rivers, the estimated cost thereof, the part to be built by each Government, and to be operated and maintained by each through its Section of the IBWC.

(Video) Water Security through Transboundary Cooperation Examples from the U S , Canada, and Mexico

The IBWC was instrumental in the development of the Chamizal Convention of August 29, 1963, which resolved the nearly 100-year-old boundary problem at El Paso, Texas and Juárez, Chihuahua, known as the Chamizal dispute, involving some 600 acres (243 hectares) of territory which were transferred from the south to the north bank of the Rio Grande by movement of the river during the mid-Nineteenth Century. By this Convention, the two Governments gave effect to a 1911 arbitration award under 1963 conditions. The IBWC relocated and concrete-lined 4.4 miles of the Rio Grande channel and transferred a net amount of 437.18 acres (176.92 hectares) from the north (U.S.) to the south side (Mexico) of the river.

The Treaty of November 23, 1970 resolved all pending boundary differences and provided for maintaining the Rio Grande and the Colorado River as the international boundary. The Rio Grande was reestablished as the boundary throughout its 1,255-mile limitrophe section. The Treaty includes provisions for restoring and preserving the character of the Rio Grande as the international boundary where that character has been lost, to minimize changes in the channel, and to resolve problems of sovereignty that might arise due to future changes in the channel of the Rio Grande. It provides for procedures designed to avoid the loss of territory by either country incident to future changes in the river's course due causes other than lateral movement, incident to eroding one of its banks and depositing alluvium on the opposite bank. This Treaty also charged the IBWC with carrying out its provisions.

The two Governments reached agreement for the solution of another long-standing problem regarding the quality of the Colorado River water allocated to Mexico under the 1944 Treaty, which was incorporated in Minute No. 242 of the IBWC dated August 30, 1973; and the IBWC submitted and the two Governments approved “Recommendations for the Solution of the Border Sanitation Problems,” in Minute No. 261, dated September 24, 1979, which provided that for each border sanitation problem, the IBWC would prepare a Minute that would identify the problem and the course of action for resolution. Pursuant to Minute No. 261, the IBWC subsequently concluded Minutes to address border sanitation problems at Naco, Arizona/Naco Sonora (Minute No. 273), Nogales, Arizona/ Nogales, Sonora (Minute No. 276), Laredo, Texas/Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (Minute No. 279) and San Diego, California/Tijuana, Baja California (Minutes Nos. 283, 296 and 311), and to address the water quality of the New River at Calexico, California and Mexicali, Baja California (Minute No. 274).

(Video) Smeltertown: A Community Lost to Time along the U.S.-Mexico Border

FAQs

Why did the US and Mexico create international boundary commission? ›

The International Boundary and Water Commission (Spanish: Comisión Internacional de Límites y Aguas) is an international body created by the United States and Mexico in 1889 to apply the rules for determining the location of their international boundary when meandering rivers transferred tracts of land from one bank to ...

How is IBWC funded? ›

Each Government funds the cost of the operation of its Section of the IBWC, while the cost of joint projects is shared between the U.S. and Mexican Governments.

What does IBWC stand for? ›

The U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), is headed by Commissioner Maria-Elena Giner, 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 ...

What type of treaty is the 1944 Rio Grande treaty? ›

The primary purpose of the bi-national 1944 Treaty between Mexico and the United States for the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande (henceforth referred to as the Water Treaty) is to allocate and manage U. S. and Mexican surface boundary waters, specially the Rio Bravo/Rio ...

Why did Mexico sell land to the US? ›

Santa Anna refused to sell a large portion of Mexico, but he needed money to fund an army to put down ongoing rebellions, so on December 30, 1853 he and Gadsden signed a treaty stipulating that the United States would pay $15 million for 45,000 square miles south of the New Mexico territory and assume private American ...

Why was the boundary commission controversial? ›

The Boundary Commission's recommendations, as reported in The Morning Post were seen as an embarrassment in Dublin. There they were perceived as being contrary to the overarching purpose of the commission, which they considered was to award the more Nationalist parts of Northern Ireland to the Free State.

Is IBWC federal? ›

The United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) is a federal government agency and is headquartered in El Paso, Texas. The IBWC operates under the foreign policy guidance of the Department of State.

What line separates France Germany? ›

Maginot Line

What is a treaty minute? ›

The Meaning of a "Minute"

Minutes are considered implementing agreements of the treaty. They are not treaty amendments. For example, the treaty says the IBWC may build dams on the Rio Grande. The Minutes specify where the dams will be built, how the costs will be shared between the two countries, etc.

What is the US Mexico water Treaty? ›

The Mexican Water Treaty of 1944 allotted to Mexico a guaranteed annual quantity of 1.5 million acre feet of water from the Colorado River, plus additional or less deliveries in specific circumstances. In 1944, the State of Arizona finally ratified the Colorado River Compact of 1922.

Which treaty established the Rio Grande as the boundary between the US and Mexico? ›

The Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty of February 2, 1848 established the international boundary between the United States and Mexico.

How was the Rio Grande River established as a border? ›

After the Mexican-American War — during Texas' first round of being a U.S. state — the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo established the Rio Grande as the border between the United States and Mexico. People living along some parts of the river woke up as part of a different country.

Which country owns the Rio Grande? ›

The United States and Mexico share the waters of the Colorado River and the Rio Grande. A bilateral water treaty from 1944 (the 1944 Water Treaty) and other binational agreements guide how the two governments share the flows of these rivers.

Does the Rio Grande belong to Mexico? ›

The entire Rio Grande/ Rio Bravo watershed covers an area approximately 924,300 square kilometers (335,000 square miles), with approximately half the watershed in the United States and the other half in Mexico. Roughly 50,000 square miles of the watershed are within Texas.

Does us sell water to Mexico? ›

The Mexican Water Treaty of 1944 committed the U.S. to deliver 1.5 million acre-feet of water to Mexico on an annual basis, plus an additional 200,000 acre-feet under surplus conditions. The treaty is overseen by the International Boundary and Water Commission.

Who owned California before Mexico? ›

Coastal exploration by the Spanish began in the 16th century, with further European settlement along the coast and in the inland valleys following in the 18th century. California was part of New Spain until that kingdom dissolved in 1821, becoming part of Mexico until the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), when it was ...

Why did the US want Texas from Mexico? ›

Polk and others saw the acquisition of Texas, California, Oregon, and other territories as part of the nation's Manifest Destiny to spread democracy over the continent. The U.S. also tried to buy Texas and what was called “Mexican California” from Mexico, which was seen as an insult by Mexico, before war broke out.

Why did the US pay Mexico 15 million dollars? ›

Mexico Surrenders

Mexico also gave up all claims to Texas and recognized the Rio Grande as America's southern boundary. In return, the United States paid Mexico $15 million and agreed to settle all claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico.

What is Boundary Commission in history? ›

Boundary Commission, consultative committee created in July 1947 to recommend how the Punjab and Bengal regions of the Indian subcontinent were to be divided between India and Pakistan shortly before each was to become independent from Britain.

What are 5 reasons for border disputes? ›

This chapter analyzes five factors (resource scarcity, locational feature, domestic politics, geopolitical competition, and cultural difference), as well as how they have decisively influenced cross-border tensions in disputed territories.

When did the concept of boundaries start? ›

All of today's boundaries were created in the past; sometimes years and sometimes decades ago, and some boundaries even earlier, such as the boundary between France and Spain, established in 1659, or the Mexican–US boundary (Rebert 2001), established in 1853–1854.

Why did France not extend the Maginot Line? ›

France did not extend the Maginot Line all the way to the English Channel in the north due to the belief that a German attack through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium was impossible. In general, the Maginot was an excellent defensive set of structures.

What do the French call the border between England and France? ›

The French call it La Manche, or the sleeve, while the more proprietorial British refer to the narrow arm of the Atlantic separating England's southern coast from the northern coast of France as the English Channel.

Which country's border is world longest international border? ›

Land border: Canada's border with the United States is the world's longest international border, at 8,890 km. This compares with the 6,846-km boundary between Russia and Kazakhstan and the 5,308-km frontier between Chile and Argentina.

What are the three types of treaty? ›

Treaty types include: Historic treaties. Peace and Friendship Treaties (1725–1779) Douglas Treaties (1850–1854)

What was minute 319? ›

Schlatter. Minute 319, an addendum to the U.S.-Mexico 1944 water treaty piloted from 2012-2017, provided new guidelines for Colorado River binational water management, including provisions to dedicate environmental flows to the Colorado River Delta in Mexico.

Does Mexico still get water from the Colorado River? ›

By the time the Colorado River reaches Mexico, just a fraction of its water is left for the fields of the Mexicali Valley and millions of people in northwestern desert cities. Now, that supply is more at risk than ever.

Why does the US give water to Mexico? ›

Historical background: Surface waters along the U.S.-Mexican border have been managed via the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1848 and the 1906 Convention between the United States and Mexico for the Equitable Distribution of the Waters of the Rio Bravo/Grande.

Did the US pay Mexico for territory? ›

The United States paid Mexico $15,000,000 "in consideration of the extension acquired by the boundaries of the United States" (see Article XII of the treaty) and agreed to pay American citizens debts owed to them by the Mexican government (see Article XV).

Who owns the water rights in Mexico? ›

Article 27 of the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico (hereinafter Mexican Constitution), which confers inalienable rights of ownership over all national waters to the Nation, provides the foundation for water protection and management laws.

Why was Mexico angry about Texas? ›

Mexicans had overthrown the Spanish and wanted to prove they were capable of running all the territory they had won from Spain. Mexico also feared a domino effect—that giving up Texas would lead to the loss of their other northern territories.

How much did Mexico sell Texas for? ›

Under the terms of the treaty, Mexico ceded to the United States approximately 525,000 square miles (55% of its prewar territory) in exchange for a $15 million lump sum payment, and the assumption by the U.S. Government of up to $3.25 million worth of debts owed by Mexico to U.S. citizens.

Who claimed the boundary at Rio Grande? ›

Texas claimed that its southwest boundary extended to the Rio Grande. Mexico claimed that the boundary was the Nueces River, which is 100 miles (160 kilometers) eastward.

What did Native Americans call the Rio Grande? ›

The Rio Grande has been known by many names over time and in different parts of its course. The Pueblo Indians called it Posoge (sometimes spelled P'Osoge), which meant "big river." The expedition of Hernando de Alvarado called it Río de Nuestra Señora in 1540.

What is the Rio Grande and why is it important? ›

Since 1848, the Rio Grande has marked the boundary between Mexico and the United States from the twin cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, to the Gulf of Mexico. As such, crossing the river was the escape route used by some Texan slaves to seek freedom.

Why is the Rio Grande not used for shipping? ›

But, unlike other significant rivers, it is not used for shipping. In fact, ocean-going ships cannot navigate the waters. No, what makes the Rio Grande so important is its location. Since 1846, it has been the official border of Texas and Mexico.

Are there alligators in the Rio Grande? ›

Whatever their origins, the RGV has harbored a relatively small population of alligators along the coast at least since the 1970's. Periodic surveys on refuge lands have yielded as many a 110, but their numbers fluctuate depending on drought.

Is the Rio Grande drying up? ›

Such drying events are not uncommon on the Rio Grande; in fact, hundreds of miles of the lower river are now often dry.

What do Mexicans call the Rio Grande? ›

The Rio Grande in the United States, known as the Río Bravo (or, more formally, the Río Bravo del Norte) in Mexico, is a river, 1,885 miles (3,034 km) long, and the fourth longest river system in the United States.

Does the Rio Grande have alligators or crocodiles? ›

This has people wondering about the safety in the water. Tomo Miller with the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center says that while alligators in the Rio Grande are rare, it is not uncommon. He says that these creatures are probably reaching the river from nearby rivers or were abandoned pets.

Where does the water from the Rio Grande come from? ›

Rio Grande

Does the US get electricity from Mexico? ›

The United States imported more than five terawatt hours of electricity from Mexico in 2021.
...
U.S. electricity imports from Mexico from 2000 to 2021 (in gigawatt-hours)
CharacteristicElectricity imports in gigawatt-hours
20215,026.16
20204,447.62
20196,743.21
20186,765.98
9 more rows
16 Sept 2022

Will the Colorado River ever dry up? ›

It's doubtful that all 1,450 miles of the Colorado River will turn to dust, even if we drain Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the nation's two largest reservoirs. But larger stretches could go dry for all or parts of the year if the lakes tank, creating ecological disasters in places like the Grand Canyon.

Is the Colorado River drying up in Mexico? ›

For decades, so much water has been diverted to supply farms and cities that the Colorado River has seldom met the sea and much of its delta in Mexico has been reduced to a dry riverbed, with only small remnants of its once-vast wetlands surviving.

Why was the boundary commission created? ›

Boundary Commission, consultative committee created in July 1947 to recommend how the Punjab and Bengal regions of the Indian subcontinent were to be divided between India and Pakistan shortly before each was to become independent from Britain.

What was the purpose of the boundary commissions? ›

The Local Boundary Commission was created by the Constitution of the State of Alaska to ensure that arguments for and against proposals to create or alter municipal governments are analyzed objectively, and take area wide and statewide needs into consideration.

What was the purpose of having a boundary commission? ›

The commission was instructed to "demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the Punjab on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims.

What is the purpose of the U.S.-Mexico border? ›

The Mexico–United States barrier (Spanish: barrera México–Estados Unidos), also known as the border wall, is a series of vertical barriers along the Mexico–United States border intended to reduce illegal immigration to the United States from Mexico.

Who was made the head of the boundary commission? ›

In June 1947, Sir Cyril John Radcliffe, a British lawyer, was made the Chairman of two boundary commissions of Punjab and Bengal and given the task to draw up the new borders of India and Pakistan.

How many boundary commissions are there? ›

Structure of the Commission

Two separate Boundary Commission were formed, one for Punjab and the other for Bengal.

Who controls the boundary commission? ›

Each commission comprises four members, three of whom take part in meetings. The Speaker of the House of Commons is ex officio chairman of each of the boundary commissions. However, the Speaker does not play any part in proceedings, and a Justice is appointed to each boundary commission as Deputy Chairman Commissioner.

What are the two types of boundary violations? ›

Boundary violations involve transgressions that are potentially harmful to or exploitative of the patient. They can be either sexual or nonsexual.

What are the five main types of boundary violations? ›

In an Instagram post shared by Nicole LePera, PhD, who goes by The Holistic Psychologist, the five types of boundaries are defined as emotional, material, time/energy, physical, and mental.

What is the difference between boundary crossings and boundary violations? ›

A boundary crossing is a deviation from classical therapeutic activity that is harmless, non-exploitative, and possibly supportive of the therapy itself. In contrast, a boundary violation is harmful or potentially harmful, to the patient and the therapy. It constitutes exploitation of the patient.

What were the project boundaries and how were they identified? ›

Project boundaries are the defined identifiers of what clients and project professionals have determined is included within project work. Within the project scope statement, those completing the project can include a project boundaries identification section that clearly defines the extent of project work expectations.

What is the history of the U.S.-Mexico border? ›

The border was established in the 1819 Adams–Onís Treaty between the United States and Spain, which specified a border in the vicinity of the western edge of the Mississippi River watershed. Mexico gained its independence from Spain, and the border was reaffirmed in the 1828 Treaty of Limits.

How does the US benefit from Mexico? ›

U.S. imports of services from Mexico were an estimated $29.8 billion in 2019, 6.8% ($1.9 billion) more than 2018, and 92.0% greater than 2009 levels. It was up roughly 301% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). Leading services imports from Mexico to the U.S. were in the travel, transport, and technical and other services sectors.

When was U.S.-Mexico border created? ›

When we speak of the U.S.-Mexico border, formally established in 1848, we have to consider that it's both a physical space as well as an ideological representation of two different places. For much of its history, humans flowed somewhat seamlessly through this physical space.

Videos

1. Smeltertown: A Community Lost to Time along the U.S.-Mexico Border
(Texas Historical Commission)
2. The Future of US-Mexico relations
(WoodrowWilsonCenter)
3. Falcón Dam
(US National Archives)
4. U.S. and Mexico Sign Treaty for Mutual Use of Rivers' Waters, This film captures scenes of the T...
(National Archives Video Collection)
5. Border Aerial Survey
(National Archives Video Collection)
6. Closing the Treaty Cycle #35 of the Water Treaty of 1944 between the US and Mexico
(Samuel Sandoval Solis)
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