Groundwater Management in the Borderlands of Mexico and Texas: The Beauty of the Unknown, the Negligence of the Present, and the Way Forward

Water Resources Research, Vol. 56, e2019WR026068, https://doi.org/ 10.1029/2019WR026068

Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 21-01

21 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2020 Last revised: 5 Jan 2021

See all articles by Rosario Sanchez

Rosario Sanchez

Texas A&M University

Gabriel Eckstein

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: March 5, 2020

Abstract

Over the last decade, transboundary aquifers traversing the Mexico‐Texas border have generated growing interest of federal institutions on the Mexico side and state and federal institutions on the Texas side. Notwithstanding this, binational efforts to understand, assess, and manage shared groundwater resources remain limited and politically sensitive. On the Mexico side, long‐standing centralized groundwater governance structures have created institutional barriers at the local level to the expansion of knowledge and cooperation over these transboundary resources. On the Texas side, property rights related to groundwater resources limit the scope of options available for cooperative management of cross‐border aquifers. This paper examines stakeholders' perspectives on the borderland between Mexico and Texas through 44 surveys and personal interviews. Findings show that stakeholders appear to support a binational groundwater agreement as a means for assuring the sound long‐term management of transboundary groundwater resources in the border region; however, the majority of stakeholders also suggest that short‐term local or regional arrangements may be preferable over binational agreements as local/regional approaches may be more achievable or realistic. Second, participants identified leadership and individual personalities as key factors for success at the local level but noted that such influence had limited sustainability and limited regional‐systemic effects. Third, the stakeholders indicated that water quality, rather than water quantity, is the main driver of transboundary cooperation efforts in the region. Fourth, participants suggested that failures and successes in groundwater cooperation efforts are based more on fear and political lobbying than on understanding of scientific facts.

Keywords: transboundary, groundwater management, Texas, Mexico

Suggested Citation

Sanchez, Rosario and Eckstein, Gabriel, Groundwater Management in the Borderlands of Mexico and Texas: The Beauty of the Unknown, the Negligence of the Present, and the Way Forward (March 5, 2020). Water Resources Research, Vol. 56, e2019WR026068, https://doi.org/ 10.1029/2019WR026068, Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 21-01, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3742199

Rosario Sanchez (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University ( email )

Langford Building A
798 Ross St.
College Station, TX 77843-3137
United States

Gabriel Eckstein

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

TX
United States
817-212-3912 (Phone)

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