Water resources management in Mexico

Water resources management in Mexico

Drinking water and sanitation

In 1998, domestic consumption accounted for 17% of surface water withdrawals in Mexico. During the past decade, the Mexican water supply and sanitation sector made major strides in service coverage. In urban areas almost 100% of the population is estimated to have access to improved water supply and 91% to adequate sanitation. In rural areas, the respective shares are 87% for water and 41% for sanitation. ref_harv|JMP|WHO and UNICEF|WHO and UNICEF Coverage levels are particularly low in the southern regions. (See also Water supply and sanitation in Mexico)

Irrigation and drainage

In 1998, agriculture accounted for 78% of surface water withdrawals in Mexico. A total of 6.2 million hectare (15.3 million acre) count with irrigation infrastructure (22.9% of the total cultivated area), 5.5 million hectares (13.6 million acres) of which are actually irrigated. In 1997, 5.8 million hectares (14.3 million acres) use surface irrigation, 0.3 million ha use sprinkler irrigation and 0.1 million ha localized irrigation. Ineffective irrigation has generated salinization and drainage problems in convert|3841.63|km2|acre of a total irrigated area of convert|62560|km2|acre| ref_harv|FAO|Aquastat|Aquastat. (See also Irrigation in Mexico)


The electricity sector in Mexico relies heavily on thermal sources (74% of total installed capacity), followed by hydropower generation (22%). The largest hydro plant in Mexico is the 2,300 MW Manuel Moreno Torres in Chicoasén, Chiapas. This is the world’s fourth most productive hydroelectric plant ref_harv|American|EIA|EIA. (See also Electricity sector in Mexico)

Aquatic ecosystems

There are approximately 70 lakes in Mexico, covering a total area of convert|3700|km2|acre|. Some of these lakes, especially in the Eastern side, have a volcanic origin and count with numerous endemic species. Lake Chapala, the largest Mexican lake, is considered a hydrological priority region for biodiversity conservation due to its 39 local species, 19 of which are endemic. The Lake Catemaco, located in Veracruz, has 12 native species 9 of which are endemic ref_harv|Mexico|Arriaga|Arriaga.

Wetlands in Mexico are dynamic, complex and productive ecosystems. Six major wetland are registered in the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands: Lagartos River (Yucatan Peninsula), Cuatrocienagas (Coahuila), La Encrucijada (Chiapas), Marsh Nayarit and Sinaloa, Centla Swamp (Tabasco), and the Colorado River (Baja California).
Cenotes, sinkholes formed with groundwater, host a number of unique species from bacteria, algae and protozoa (i.e. copepoda, cladocera and rotifera) to vertebrates (i.e.lepisosteus) ref_harv|Mexico|Arriaga|Arriaga. Cenotes are the main water source for many ancient and contemporary Maya people, as there are no rivers and very few lakes on the peninsula.

Legal and institutional framework

Legal framework

The main law governing water resources management in Mexico is the National Water Law of 1992, revised on April 29 2004 ref_harv|mexican|Law|Law.

According to the Law key functions in the sector are the responsibility of the federal government, through the National Water Commission (CNA or CONAGUA). The NWL made id possible to implement a regulatory framework that seeks to encourage greater efficiency and a more accurate perception of the social, economic, and environmental value of this resource. Therefore, users of national waters operate within a framework of rights and obligations that are clearly defined in three basic instruments:
*Titles of concession or allocation, which establish the right to withdraw, use or enjoy in usufruct a specific volume of water
*Permits for wastewater discharges. This instrument establishes the concession under which permittees must dispose of resulting wastewater
*Enrollment in the Public Registry of the Water Rights (Registro Publico de Derechos de Agua – REDPA) of both tittles of concession or allocation and permits for discharging wastewater, which affords the rights granted to water users greater certainty and assistance form a legal standpoint.The 2004 amended National Water Law (NWL) aims to restructure CONAGUA key functions through the transfer of responsibilities from the central level to subnational entities: the basin agencies (Organismos de Cuenca – BA) and Basin Councils (Consejos de Cuenca – BC). BA and BCs are expected to play an increasing role in the sector limiting CONAGUA’s role to the administration of the NWL, the conduct of national water policy, and planning, supervision, support and regulatory activities.

The NWL also introduced a Water Financing System (Sistema Finaciero del Agua – SFA). CONAGUA will create together with the Ministry of Finance appropriate instruments to determine funding sources, spending guidelines, cost recovery, settling of accounts and management indicators.

Institutional framework

Three groups of institutions have been assigned with the main responsibilities for WRM: (i) the National Water Commission (Comision Nacional del Agua –CONAGUA), at the federal level; (ii) Water Commissions (Comisiones Estatales del Agua – CEAs), at the State level; and (iii) basin authorities and basin councils.

CONAGUA is the highest institution for water resource management in Mexico, including water policy, water rights, planning, irrigation and drainage development, water supply and sanitation, and emergency and disaster management (with an emphasis on flooding). CONAGUA’s mission is to manage and preserve national water resources, with the participation of the society, to reach a sustainable use of the resource.

CONAGUA is formally under the authority of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaria del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales – SEMARNAT) but it enjoys considerable de facto autonomy. It employs 17,000 professionals, has 13 regional offices and 32 state offices and had an annual budget of US$1.2 billion in 2005. It also directly manages certain key hydraulic facilities such as the Cutzamala Pipeline that supplies a large share of the water used in the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City. CNA also owns and operates most dams in Mexico and operates the country’s water monitoring networkref_harv|World Bank|Olson|Olson.

The CEAs are autonomous entities that usually are under the authority of the State Ministry of Public Works. Their attributions are different among states and can include water resources management, irrigation and the provision of water supply and sanitation services.

The recently created Basin Authorities (BAs) will develop from the 13 existing Regional Offices of CONAGUA and are expected to be responsible for formulating regional policy, designing programs to implement such policies, conducting studies to estimate the value of the financial resources generated within their boundaries (water user fees and service fees), recommending specific rates for water user fees and collecting them. Basin Councils (BCs) are expected to guide, together with CONAGUA, BAs work. There are a total of 25 BCs that have been established with the same basin boundaries as the BAsref_harv|World Bank|Olson|Olson.

Government strategy

The National Water Plan 2007-2012, linked to the National Development Plan, aims at ensuring water quality and quantity, recognizing the strategic value of water and promoting sustainable water use and water resources conservation. The Plan has eight objectives, namely: (i) increasing agricultural productivity, (ii) increasing access and quality of water supply and sanitation services, (iii) promoting integrated water resources management at the river basin level, (iv) improving technical, administrative and financial development of the water sector, (v) increase participation of water users and society in general in the management of water resources, (vi) reduce water risks, (vii) evaluate climate change impacts on water resources, and (viii) promote compliance with the National Water Law, especially on administrative matters.

Each objective has a strategy and a set of goals associated. The NWP has a total budget of 227,130 million pesos (about US$21.9 billion), which does not include operational and maintenance costs of hydraulic infrastructure.

Water pricing, cost recovery and subsidies

Mexico lacks a coherent national policy framework for setting and linking water and sanitation tariffs, subsidies and cost-recovery goals. The absence of overarching policies produces a wide variation in the degree of cost recovery and subsidies across regions. Tariffs are set below costs – the most common form of user subsidy in water supply and sanitation.

Water service providers charge industrial and commercial user tariffs that are close to full recovery cost, and cross subsidize residential users. The average tariff across users, US$0.32 per cubic meter ($0.24/cu yd), is half the Latin American and the Caribbean average, US$0.65/m³ ($0.50/cu yd).

The level of collection efficiency in Mexico has been estimated at 72%, far below the levels achieved in developed countries (OECD 95%). Water tariff collections in water supply and sanitation have been estimated at US$1.54 billion in 2002. Billed revenues were estimated at between US$2.14 billion and US$2.9 billion.

Approximately 31% of water custumers are not metered and are charged a flat rate, independent of consumption, differentiated by neighborhood ref_harv|World Bank|Olson and Saltiel|Olson and Saltiel.

Water-related risks

Mexico is prone to several weather events including hurricanes on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Hurricanes contribute to recharge surface and groundwater reservoirs with increases water supply for cities, irrigation and electricity generation. Hurricanes pose also a threat to service delivery, infrastructure and ultimately to ecosystems and human life. This situation is aggravated by deforestation upstream as well as human settlements located in flood prone areas ref_harv|Plan Nacional|CONAGUA|CONAGUA.

With more than 85% of the Mexican land area defined as arid or semi-arid and a highly variable interannual rainfall Mexico is also prone to droughts, especially in the northern areas.The most severe droughts in Mexico in recent decades coincide with the variations in Pacific sea-surface temperatures associated with El Niño. The economic and social and environmental impacts of droughts in Mexico are notable. In 1996, four years of below normal rainfall produced farms losses estimated at US$1 billion and interstate political between Sonora and Sinaloa ref_harv|Oxford|Liverman|Liverman.

Potential climate change impacts

Climate change will produce a decrease in water flow and an increase on water demand due to increasing temperature, decreasing rainfall and more extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods due to El Niño Southern Oscillation and La Niña.

The IPCC estimates an increase in temperatures between 1 and 6 degrees Celsius. By 2050, the Mexican Institute of Water Technology expects a 7-12 % decrease in precipitation in the southern basins, 3% in the Mexican Golf basin, and 11% in the central basing. Precipitation is estimated to continue decreasing over the next 50 years. A diminished river flow will also contribute to higher evapotranspiration. There is also expected to see an increase on 5 category hurricanes ref_harv|IMTA|Martinez| Martinez .

During some El Niño/La Niña years, winter precipitation may be so great that stream flow and water levels in dams may exceed those observed during summer. In contrast, summer droughts during these events can lead to serious deficits in reservoir levels and in rain-fed maize production. In Mexico during 1997, the estimated costs of climate anomalies associated with El Niño were 900 million US dollars, particularly in agricultural activities, when 2 million hectares (5 million acres) were affected by a severe drought.ref_harv|Universidad|Conde|Conde.

In 2007, [http://www.semarnat.gob.mx/Pages/inicio.aspx SEMARNAT] together with the [http://www.imta.gob.mx/ Instituto Mexicano de Tecnología del Agua] published a study “ [http://www.imta.gob.mx/gaceta/anteriores/g07-11-2007/gaceta-imta-07.pdf Climate Change Effects on Water Resources in Mexico] .” The main findings are summarized below.

Qualitative vulnerability to climate change by hydrologic-administrative region"Source": SERMANAT (2007)

External cooperation

The World Bank is currently contributing with US$28.5 million, to an Adaptation to Climate Change Project in the Gulf of Mexico ( [http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2007/09/24/000021271_20070925143034/Rendered/PDF/Project0Inform1ment010Concept0Stage.pdf] ). This project aims at formulating and implementing adaptation policy actions and specific measures in representative systems of Gulf of Mexico wetlands in order to protect their environmental functions and their rich biodiversity from climate change related impacts, and improving the knowledge base to ascertain with a higher level of certainty the anticipated impacts from climate change on the country’s water resources, with a primary focus on coastal wetlands and associated inland basins.The

In November 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank approved a US$200,000 project to support a program for flood emergency in Tabasco. In September 2007 it approved a US$200,000 project to support a program to relief damages caused by Hurricane Dean.


*note_label|FAO|Aquastat|Aquastatcite web
title=Contry Profiles:Mexico
work=Food and Agricultural Organization
accessdate=March 10 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|Mexico|Arriaga|Arriagacite web
author=Arriaga Cabrera, et al
title=Aguas continentals y diversidad biologica de Mexico
work=Comision Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso dela Biodiversidad
accessdate=March 10 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|Plan Nacional|CONAGUA|CONAGUAcite web
title=National Water Program
accessdate=March 13 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|mexican|CONAGUA|CONAGUAcite web
title=La Gestion del Agua en Mexico:Avances y Retos
accessdate=March 19 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|bilingual|CONAGUAII|CONAGUAIIcite web
author=Subdireccion General de Programación
title=Water in Mexico
accessdate=March 19 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|Universidad|Conde|Condecite web
author=Conde, Patricia and Gay, Carlos
title=Impact of climate change and climate variability in Mexico
accessdate=March 13 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|WRI|Earthtrends|Earthtrendscite web
author=Earth Trends
title=Country Profile: Mexico
work=World Resources Institute
accessdate=March 19 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|American|EIA|EIAcite web
title=Country analysis Brief: Mexico
accessdate=March 10 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|mexican|Law|Lawcite web
author=Diario Oficial
title=Reforma de la lay de aguas nacionales
work=Diario Oficial
accessdate=March 14 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|Oxford|Liverman|Livermancite web
author=Liverman, Diana M.
title=Adaptation to Drought in Mexico
work=Oxford University Centre for the Environment
accessdate=March 13 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|IMTA|Martinez|Martinezcite web
author=Martinez Austria, Polioptro F.
title=Efectos del Cambio Climatico en los Recursos Hidricos de Mexico
work=Instituto Mexicano de Tecnologia del Agua
accessdate=March 13 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|World Bank|Olson|Olsoncite web
author=Douglas Olson
title=Mexico:Water Public Expenditure Review
work=World Bank
accessdate=March 10 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|World Bank|Olson and Saltiel|Olson and Saltielcite web
author=Olson, Douglas and Saltiel, Gustavo
title=Averting a water crisis in Mexico. Chapter 9: Water Resources
work=World Bank
accessdate=March 13 |accessyear=2008

*note_label|simmons|Sanderson|Sandersoncite journal
author=Sanderson, S.E.
title=Agrarian Populism and the Mexican State: The Struggle for Land in Sonora
journal=University of California Press

*note_label|arizona|Scott|Scottcite journal
author=Scott, Christopher A. and Banister, Jeff M.
title=The Dilemma of Water Management “Regionalization” in Mexico under Centralized Resource Allocation
journal=University of Arizona.

*note_label| JMP|WHO and UNICEF|WHO and UNICEFcite web
author=WHO and UNICEF
title=Joint Monitoring Program
work=Joint Monitoring Program
accessdate=March 17 |accessyear=2008

ee also

*Electricity sector in Mexico
*Water supply and sanitation in Mexico
*Irrigation in Mexico
*Water resources in Mexico

External links

* [http://www.agua.org.mx/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/ Centro Virtual de Informacion del Agua]
* [http://www.conagua.gob.mx/conagua/Default.aspx CONAGUA official website]

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