Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), in its current form, was created in 1944 by the Treaty Regarding Utilization of Waters of Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande. The IBWC was given the authority to manage surface water along the US-Mexico border. Recent changes along the border have exposed a number of weaknesses in both the 1944 Water Treaty and the IBWC, making it difficult to resolve disputes. The challenges of administering the 1944 Water Treaty have escalated as population continues to grow, environmental concerns increase, water quality is jeopardized by sanitation inadequacies, groundwater resources are depleted, and the region deals with drought. Recent drought and Mexico's water debt have revealed vague language in the 1944 Water Treaty and its subsequent Minutes. Most critics suggest that the current mandate, structure, and jurisdiction of the IBWC are not adequate to handle the complexities involved with water management on the border. Some critics of the IBWC suggest resolution could occur with a new Minute, and the Minute system of the 1944 Water Treaty is seen by critics and supporters alike as an avenue through which treaty reform and extensions can be legally made. An analysis of the Minute system, and of the limitations of the institutional and political structures surrounding the IBWC, was conducted to determine if it is indeed an adequate reform mechanism. Even though the Minute system may be able to make treaty-compatible reforms, other factors limit their success or even the possibility of their creation. The Berlin Rules, the most recent and comprehensive set of customary international water law written by the International Law Association, provide sufficient guidelines for changes the IBWC can take. The IBWC can modernize itself through its Minute system by utilizing the Berlin Rules and its principles that are necessary for achieving sound binational management of an international watercourse.

Language (ISO)



IBWC, water treaty, Minute system, US-Mexico border


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Water Resources, University of New Mexico.