XVI World Water Congress - Abstract
Submitted by the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission
Title: Improving Binational Water Management Policy Through Science
In the North American Southwest, water is a vital but disappearing resource. Water management officials along the United States/Mexico border are using binational water management policies that are over 100 years old. As the hydrology of the region changes, this paper examines new approaches using science and technology in the allocation of the Rio Grande Basin water to meet the current and future water needs of the two countries.
The rules governing the Rio Grande basin were established in the first half of the 20th century by a series of treaties and domestic agreements that allocate the water between the states and the two countries. The binational treaties are implemented by the International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico (IBWC), a binational organization responsible for applying the boundary and water treaties between the two countries and settling differences that arise in their applicaiton. Compliance with these agreements has become a more difficult task in recent years as the availability of water has changed, either through natural or anthropogenic sources. Changing water demands in the basin has contributed to previous shortfalls in Mexico's water delivery requirements which led to drastic and undesirable water measures to fulfill the international agreements.
To address these issues, the IBWC and stakeholders of the region are seeking a binational solution that takes into account the changing hydrology, while proactively managing the basin to continue meeting the requirements of the water treaty and domestic needs of each country. A conceptual model was developed in RiverWare to explore new and innovative delivery methods that maintain the spirit of the treaty while insuring compliance and continued availability by upstream users.
The model analyzes historical delivery practices, naturalized flow, and other best management concepts that comply with the international water treaty to quanitfy a fair and equitable allocation of water within the basin. Preliminary analysis has shown the model can assist water management officials in the management of this precious resource to assure a more equitable division of water in times of drought, thus reducing the impact of later measures necessary to meet the treaty delivery requirements. As development of the concepts in this model progresses, it is envisioned that the model will become an integral tool in a comprehensive binational solution to insure the fair and equitable distribution of waters in the Rio Grande basin.
The IBWC along with its respective stakeholders, will continue the advancement of this initiative with the vision of developing a binational cooperative basin management plan to safeguard the interest on both sides of the border.