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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: HYDROLOGIC PROCESSES, SCALE, CLIMATE VARIABILITY, AND WATER RESOURCES FOR SEMIARID WATERSHED MANAGEMENT

Location: Southwest Watershed Research

Title: A River Running in the Desert: Lessons for Integrated Water Resources Management from the San Pedro HELP Basin on the U.S.-Mexico Border 1978

Authors
item Browning-Aiken, A. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
item Goodrich, David
item Varady, R. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
item Richter, H. - THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

Submitted to: Electronic Publication
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2007
Publication Date: November 20, 2007
Citation: Browning-Aiken, A., Goodrich, D.C., Varady, R.G., Richter, H. 2007. A river running in the desert: lessons for integrated water resources management from the san pedro help basin on the u.s.-mexico border. Southern Symposium 2007, “HELP in Action.” Johannesburg, South Africa. 4-9 Nov. 2007, CDROM, 12p.

Interpretive Summary: Arid and semi-arid regions account for approximately one-third of the land mass of earth. These regions are experiencing continued pressure from population growth in many parts of the world. Water is a critical resource in these regions and is often in short supply. To maintain the economic, social, and ecological viability of these areas it is essential that decision makers and resource managers have a solid scientific basis on which to make watershed based decisions. This paper provides empirical evidence of the positive impacts on watershed management of scientists and policy researchers working closely with water managers and other stakeholders in a functioning UNESCO Hydrology for the Environment, Life, and Policy (HELP) basin. An assessment of the distinctive nature of the Basin in terms of its physical and socioeconomic characteristics, as well as differences in institutional regulations, water law issues, and local implementation in Arizona and Sonora was conducted. Stakeholders and scientific researchers in both countries were found to strive to balance ecosystem needs with human demands to create new, integrated basin management. We argue that transboundary cooperation in policymaking and water management is most effective when hydrologists help watershed groups understand the processes controlling water quality and quantity, and when managers and stakeholders connect these processes to social, economic and legal issues.

Technical Abstract: Flowing from Mexico into the United States, the San Pedro Basin is the region’s only remaining perennial stream and one of the western hemisphere’s most ecologically diverse areas. Large mining, military, and municipal entities are major users of the same groundwater resources that maintain perennial flow in the San Pedro. This paper provides empirical evidence of the positive impacts on watershed management of scientists and policy researchers working closely with water managers and other stakeholders in a functioning HELP basin. We argue that transboundary cooperation in policymaking and water management is most effective when hydrologists help watershed groups understand the processes controlling water quality and quantity, and when managers and stakeholders connect these processes to social, economic and legal issues. We assess the distinctive nature of the Basin in terms of its physical and socioeconomic characteristics, as well as differences in institutional regulations, water law issues, and local implementation in Arizona and Sonora. We demonstrate how stakeholders and scientific researchers in both countries strive to balance ecosystem needs with human demands to create new, integrated basin management. Finally, we offer to the HELP agenda the accomplishments of this collaborative process—including the use of environmental-conflict-resolution tools—and the lessons learned from the San Pedro HELP Basin experience.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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