Water and Sustainable Development in the Binational Lower Rio Grande/Bravo Basin

EPA Grant Number: R824799
Title: Water and Sustainable Development in the Binational Lower Rio Grande/Bravo Basin
Investigators: Schmandt, Jurgen , Barajas, Ismael Aguilar , Sisbarro, Daniel J.
Current Investigators: Schmandt, Jurgen , Aguilar, Ismael , Armstrong, Neal , Chapa, Liliana , Contreras, Salvador , Edwards, Robert , Hazelton, Jared , Jesus Navar, Jose de , Mathis, Mitchell , Vogel, Enrique , Ward, George
Institution: Houston Advanced Research Center
Current Institution: Houston Advanced Research Center , Texas A & M University , The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: November 1, 1995 through January 1, 1998
Project Amount: $400,000
RFA: Water and Watersheds (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water


In its 1994 Regional Assessment of Water Quality in the Rio Grande Basin, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission made two recommendations for further research and policy development: 1) an improved understanding of water issues as they relate to the binational border dynamic and 2) development of lasting links across the U.S.-Mexico border. The project unites critical information on water, population, economics, and ecology in an approach that will assist managers and policy decision makers to plan for sustainable management of the binational watershed. The objectives are:
  • To develop, compare and integrate reliable, comparable watershed-based data sets for the Lower Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Basin.
  • To analyze water resource issues as critical factors for achieving sustainable development in this type of watershed.
  • To engage researchers, policymakers, and the civic community to help answer the questions, "What is needed to make development in the binational watershed more sustainable? And how will we get there?"
The project takes a "civic research" approach, integrating data and knowledge from the binational task force of experts and from the broader civic community. We pair Mexican and U.S. researchers to compile and examine data in the areas of: water supply, including quantity and quality; water demands from municipal, industrial, agricultural and ecological users; water management and institutions; instream habitat; and population and socioeconomic growth. Findings from our analyses will be used to design a series of community-based surveys and two workshops. The surveys will be conducted by graduate students at the University of Texas and ITESM. These are expected to gather insights into the community's concerns about perceived threats, risks, and opportunities related to water and development in the watershed. The task force will then integrate the survey and science findings in a report which will highlight water and development trends and will recommend actions to be taken to improve the conditions for balancing water and sustainable development needs in the watershed. The task force will also develop a number of future scenarios for the years 2010 and 2030, including drought conditions and sustainable development.

As the task force began developing their baseline scenarios for water supply and demand, water quality, water management, socioeconomic factors, and ecology, we determined that we will need more extensive analyses of agriculture, tributaries, and groundwater. In addition, we also need to include a greater diversity of participants in the workshops. The GIS team has produced preliminary maps for the research project, however, there are large gaps in data availability and reliability on the Mexican side. The surveys are stimulating great interest locally because they depart from traditional research methods and people enjoy involvement. The binational task force will meet in February to discuss baseline scenarios. The first future scenario, drought conditions, will be explored in 1997. The first workshop will also be held in 1997, involving civic leaders, water managers, non-profit organizations, and the private sector to rank threats and risks to water and development in the watershed.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 13 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

water, drinking water, watersheds, groundwater, ecosystem, aquatic, habitat, sustainable development, public policy, decision making, community-based, observation, survey, psychological, preferences, public good, socio-economic, conservation, environmental assets, sociological, biology, social science, modeling, surveys, climate model, southwest, Texas, TX, Region 6, agriculture, business, industry., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Water & Watershed, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, State, Economics, Ecology and Ecosystems, EPA Region, Social Science, Watersheds, risk assessment, water resources, Texas, climate change, Rio Grande Basin, (TX), availability of water resources, Region 6, aquatic ecosystems, water quality, watershed sustainablility, public policy

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • 1997
  • Final Report