Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
Troubled Waters Between El Paso & Ciudad Juarez

Via the Border Wall As Architecture blog, some information on the water problems at the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez border resulting from the fact that they share an aquifer and surface source (the Rio Grande), but have few effective ways to prevent over-use and/or contamination.  As the article notes:

“…An arid landscape and climate as well as a rapid population and urbanization growth characterize the region of El Paso-Ciudad Juarez. NAFTA (1994) has accelerated the growth of manufacturing industries and has sparked a rise in export-oriented agriculture. As such, water shortage and the distribution of water have become serious issues shared by both cities. In the Ciudad Juarez- El Paso area, it has been predicted that groundwater will run dry in 20 years.

Shortage: With environmentalists and water experts becoming more vocal about the endangered aquifer, El Paso has cut its use back to 50 percent and is biding time by exploring other options. It has begun to develop water rights in rural counties to the east (Antelope Valley aquifers), has increased its dependence of surface water taken from Rio Grande, and began to plan strategies in order to bring water from more distant places and damns (Mesilla, NM). The latter would consequently increase the cost water by a substantial amount.

Juarez’s position is more difficult; though the city uses half as much water per person as its neighbor, at 1.2 million Juarez has twice as many people. Juarez pumps aquifer water all year-round (Hueco Bolson) – even though researchers say at that rate fresh water will run out within as few as five years.

Inefficiency and degradation:  Municipal and irrigation systems canals are inefficient as they are open air and not lined with concrete resulting seepage and evaporation.  In addition, blackish Water from irrigation returns drains in the area and has degraded the water quality in the Shallow Rio Grande alluvium aquifer. “Below El Paso/Juarez, the flow in the El Paso/Juarez primarily consists of treated wastewater from EL Paso, untreated wastewater from Juarez and irrigation return flows…”



This entry was posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009 at 6:06 am and is filed under Mexico, United States.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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