White Jankowski Lawyers

Minute Order 319 establishes new Colorado River sharing for U.S. and Mexico

December 20, 2012

On November 20, 2012, the United States and Mexico signed Minute Order 319 (an amendment to the 1944 Water Treaty) and embarked on a five-year venture to improve Colorado River management.  Under Minute Order 319, the United States will allow Mexico to store limited volumes of water in Lake Mead, and both countries will share water in times of surplus and shortage.  The agreement also outlines mechanisms to promote environmental benefits, including restoration projects, and promises that a pulse flow will reach the Colorado River delta.  Minute Order 319 also provides for United States investment in water infrastructure in return for a one-time allotment of 124,000 acre-feet of water from Mexico.  Through these and other measures, both countries hope to increase regional climate change resilience.

While Colorado water users are unlikely to feel immediate effects from Minute Order 319, the bi-national agreement is an example of the same negotiated approach to water shortages that is taking place throughout Colorado.  Although certain water disputes will continue to require judicial resolution, we are encouraged whenever parties come together to develop agreements for sharing water resources.