The purpose of this project was to develop a planning tool to help decision-makers to identify, manage and assess water sustainability for rural communities at the Altiplano Potosino, a 15 municipalities' region in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The Altiplano Potosino is a semi-arid region with a rainfall less than 350 mm and 1,424 communities from which only 20 are urban and the rest rural (communities with population < 2,500 inhabitants). The project was developed from June 2013 until June 2015.
Due to the complexity of the problem, a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) approach was chosen as the method to achieve project's objective, even when SEA is not fully developed or systematically used in Mexico, apart from the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). A SEA process was developed specifically for the project based on three SEA models (two from UK and the third from Portugal), and Mexico's decision-making and planning system particularities were considered. SEA's main stages used in the project involved the development of a baseline study, whinch included documentary revision, a 5 months' field work; a water quality stdy from the identified drinking-water sources in the rural communities; an analysis of the data through a Driving Forces-Pressure-State-Impact-Response model; a network analysis for Driving Forces' relationships, and two Public Meetings.
The main problem during the development of the project was the lack of reliable information at official institutions in all three governmental levels (federal, state and municipal) related to drinking-water in rural communities including planning instruments, types of water source, water quality and water volumes used, which was also related to the accessibility of existing information. Lack of public and authorities' participation in Public Meetings was also a key issue that prevented better results.
The main result was the development of an Integrated Drinking-Water Management Plan for Rural Communities at the Altiplano Potosino, which included the definition of the main Driving Forces controlling the water management in the region, the role of each stakeholder in the decision-making and planning processes, the identification of the legal and instititutional frameworks related to the water management in the Altiplano Potosino, and the main proposals for improving their water management obtained as a result of field work and Public Meetings.
The last step performed was a private meeting held between the members of the project form the University and the San Luis Potosi's State Water Commission in March 2016 for the update and follow-up of project's results. Unfortunately, even when the authorities received all the information generated by the project, the results were not considered in other important planning instruments such the State Development Plan or the State Water Programme.