Committee: economic and social
Topic: To resolve the problem of the conflict between the United States of America and Mexico about the water of the Colorado River.
Chairs: Alexandre Brun, Audrey Lhermelin, Emma Goddet, Marcus Hart
The Colorado River is 2330 km long, from the Rocky Mountains to the Californian Gulf. It is a great and crucial resource for prosperity, especially for the USA but it also appears to be the cause of many conflicts between Mexico and the USA. Moreover the river is exposed to droughts because of the climate, the pollution and the over-exploitation from humans. The river spreads mostly on the American ground.
Water conflict: conflicts and tensions due to the fresh water supplies when the source in question is located on several territories. We have to consider that fresh water supplies are one of the biggest economic and social matters of each country.
The Colorado River supplies a major part of the fresh water in 7 States of the USA (about 1/12 of the entirety of the American citizens), 2 Mexican states and 34 sovereign indigenous tribes. This resource enables, for the moment, the supply of about 30 million people and 38 million people are expected by 2020.
In addition, this river irrigates 15% American crops and generates enough electricity to cover the needs of 3 million people.
The American exploitation of the river:
Height: 221,4 meters / Length: 379 meters / annual average production: 4200 GWh
(The lake created by the dam has 3600 km of shoreline and it can store the equivalent of the water that flows during two years in the Colorado (35 billion m³).) → It has an environmental impact on the delta.
Height: 98m / Length: 261m / reservoir: “Havasu Lake”: 800 million m³ / annual energy production: 456,944 GWh.
The Havasu Lake is also a fresh water storage and a point for pumping in California.
The Mexican operations:
A very fragile resource:
The river is very polluted because of the oil exploitations which require a lot of water. This rush for energy made a considerable impact in weakening this resource.
Furthermore, the two countries decided to share the water on the basis of the average flow seen from 1905 to 1925, a period which has been the wettest of the last 400 years. So the river was exploited particularly in California. It makes often the Mexican part of the river dry, the river doesn’t reach the sea anymore.
In addition, climate change in recent years aggravated this fragility, so that the situation may become permanent.
Finally, the population growth and the economic growth in the South of the USA created an increase in extractions, which could lead to a dryness of the reservoirs of the pouring pool.
The agreements between the two countries:
In 1922, the US federal government decided which would be the share of water for each of its States and which would be the share for Mexico. Thus, the share for Mexico amounted to 1.9 km³, whereas the Colorado on its own (which is even not crossed by the river as it form its border) granted itself 6.5 km³ of water – 40% of the real available volume.
In 2012, the USA and Mexico signed an agreement in order to strengthen their cooperation, to facilitate their exchanges of water and to save water to restore the river delta the most possible.
However the sharing of this resource has historically been very unequal, as the main beneficiaries were Californians (having a biggest political power), thus the Mexican populations, downstream, have always been aggrieved.
Involved organizations and countries:
The United States: being a very important resource, because it irrigates a good part of the population and the agriculture; they have an interest in decreasing their use of water to preserve the resource and consequently to decrease the Mexican immigration due to this water shortage (people who have no more access to water because of this overexploitation migrate to the US where the water is still present).
Mexico: given that the Mexican part of the river is often dried up, Mexico should enforce its rights opposite to the US, which, by weakening the river, makes the local supplying nearly impossible. So Mexico has to stand firm to deal with situation, because the water resources of the country depend on it.
The countries which have had conflicts over water can and have to put forward solutions which have been favorable for themselves.
The counties that have lots of water resources can help the various parties needing this resource.
To sum up, we are asking all the delegations of the social committee of Mock M.U.N to show how inventive, ingenious, cooperative and patient they can be in order to find the best solutions to offset this major problem, which could affect more and more the already tense diplomatic situation between the USA and Mexico.
Don’t hesitate to ask us for help and to use the links below.
* http://www.francetvinfo.fr/replay-radio/planete- geo/le-colorado- un-fleuve-
epuise_1791243.html (audio explicatif)