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


  • Over the last decade, transboundary aquifers traversing the MexicoTexas 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, longstanding 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 crossborder 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 longterm management of transboundary groundwater resources in the border region; however, the majority of stakeholders also suggest that shortterm 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 regionalsystemic 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.

published proceedings

  • Water Resources Research

altmetric score

  • 31.45

author list (cited authors)

  • Sanchez, R., & Eckstein, G.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Sanchez, Rosario||Eckstein, Gabriel

publication date

  • March 2020