A lock-in Transboundary Water Management Regime: the case of the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin

Nava, L.F. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4047-6006 & Sandoval-Solis, S. (2015). A lock-in Transboundary Water Management Regime: the case of the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin. In: World Water Congress, 25- 29 May 2015, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Project: Water futures and solutions initiative (WFaS)


The study of the Rio Grande/Bravo (RGB) Basin water management demonstrates how the United States (US) and Mexico have consolidated a transboundary water regime based on groundwater sharing.

Despite the lack of water management integration and common sustainable practices, both countries have succeeded in sharing groundwater resources in the past, but not for long. The transboundary water regime in RGB Basin is based on fixed groundwater extractions which do not match the ever increasing water demands and current adjustments for human and environmental needs, and the potential future natural conditions for a sustainable river system.

The aim of this paper is to discuss that despite the fact that the US – Mexico water regime has given good results in terms of water allocation; the system is imperfect due to a lack of consideration of current and future environmental, economic and socio-political drivers, as well as seeing the system as a whole, promoting a conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater. Findings of this study are based on a qualitative interview study conducted with stakeholders in the RGB Basin and an analysis of historic water demands. Our sample included 54 respondents across the basin, they addressed a multitude of concerns in the context of environmental problems, fragmented water management, and citizen participation.

This presentation elaborates on three key questions: (1) How the RGB water allocation regime can last with fixed water demands and without adapting to current changes in natural conditions? (2) What is the impact of this regime in the river ecosystem? (3) Does the RGB Basin water regime reflect a lock in situation that is blocking changes toward new water management practices? If so, how stakeholders can promote changes in the decision-making process? The situation of the RGB water regime can be explained through the concept of long-term predominance which results in a path-dependent process. This process helps to address sustained persistence and processes of institutions leading to a lock-in state. The RGB water regime needs major transformations, specifically in considering environmental, economical, and socio-political variables in groundwater management across the river basin, as well as the conjunctive use of surface and groundwater. A list of recommendations to enhance and optimize current water management regime is presented with a discussion of possibilities of dissolving binational organizational paths.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: water management, Rio Grande/Bravo Basin, regime, United States, Mexico, institutions
Research Programs: Water (WAT)
Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 10 May 2016 08:06
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:26
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/13165

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