Mexico vows to fight lining of U.S. canal, plans diplomatic note

Mexico pledged on Thursday to fight U.S. plans to line a border canal and stop precious water seeping into Mexico, and will send a diplomatic note to the United States to protest the scheme.

During a meeting with Mexican officials on the northern border, Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said Mexico wants a negotiated solution, but considers Mexicans' right to the water to be "inalienable."

Derbez said the residents of the border city of Mexicali, near the All-American canal, have an "inalienable" right to water that seeps through the waterway's unlined sides,

Mexico will "totally defend" its access to that water, the Environment Department said in a press statement.

The statement did not say when the note would be sent.

In July, a Mexican organization and two nonprofit groups filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas against the U.S. government to stop plans to line the canal, which supplies water to farms in California's Imperial Valley.

Environment Secretary Jose Luis Tamargo said Mexico would not accept the environmental impact statement on the project, claiming it would have a negative impact on wetlands and water tables south of the border.

At issue is a decades-old federal plan to line the porous All-American Canal with concrete. The canal delivers water from the Colorado River just north of the border to the agriculture-rich Imperial Valley in California.

The U.S. government estimates that almost 68,000 acre-feet of seepage could be saved if the canal is lined. An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons, enough to serve one or two households for one year, AP reported. V.A.

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