The purpose of this project was to develop a planning tool to help decision-makers to identify, manage and assess water sustainability for rural communities at the Altiplano Potosino, a 15 municipalities' region in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The Altiplano Potosino is a semi-arid region with a rainfall less than 350 mm and 1,424 communities from which only 20 are urban and the rest rural (communities with population < 2,500 inhabitants). The project was developed from June 2013 until June 2015.
Due to the complexity of the problem, a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) approach was chosen as the method to achieve project's objective, even when SEA is not fully developed or systematically used in Mexico, apart from the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). A SEA process was developed specifically for the project based on three SEA models (two from UK and the third from Portugal), and Mexico's decision-making and planning system particularities were considered. SEA's main stages used in the project involved the development of a baseline study, whinch included documentary revision, a 5 months' field work; a water quality stdy from the identified drinking-water sources in the rural communities; an analysis of the data through a Driving Forces-Pressure-State-Impact-Response model; a network analysis for Driving Forces' relationships, and two Public Meetings.
The main problem during the development of the project was the lack of reliable information at official institutions in all three governmental levels (federal, state and municipal) related to drinking-water in rural communities including planning instruments, types of water source, water quality and water volumes used, which was also related to the accessibility of existing information. Lack of public and authorities' participation in Public Meetings was also a key issue that prevented better results.
The main result was the development of an Integrated Drinking-Water Management Plan for Rural Communities at the Altiplano Potosino, which included the definition of the main Driving Forces controlling the water management in the region, the role of each stakeholder in the decision-making and planning processes, the identification of the legal and instititutional frameworks related to the water management in the Altiplano Potosino, and the main proposals for improving their water management obtained as a result of field work and Public Meetings.
The last step performed was a private meeting held between the members of the project form the University and the San Luis Potosi's State Water Commission in March 2016 for the update and follow-up of project's results. Unfortunately, even when the authorities received all the information generated by the project, the results were not considered in other important planning instruments such the State Development Plan or the State Water Programme.
The institutions involved in fresh water governance in Mexico have evolved over time. This change is widely documented for water used for irrigation but not for drinking. There are formal and informal institutions that manage the drinking water at differences level. The Water National Law recognizes formal institutions as the National Water Commission that influences all management levels, State, Municipalities and in some cases, the private companies (cases of Mexico City, Saltillo and Puebla). However, there are informal institutions (not recognized by the Law) as water committees (CAs acronym in Spanish), that provide water mainly in rural and semi-urban areas. According to the literature, CAs existed before the water federalization in 1988. Today, more than 200 CAs have been documented in different communities, but we do not know how they have survived. We documented the institutional changes and governance of drinking water to understand how seven CAs in Oaxaca´s Valley have changed and survived. Documental review, participant observation, informal interviews and semi-structure surveys were applied. We interviewed 53 key actors and 252 registered water users. In the first period of changes, the Spanish Colony pushed centralization at national level. Followed by the centralization of water to impulse a new energy politics through hydroelectric dams by the Mexican State to produce energy, resulting in the 1988 Water Federalization Act. This produced substantial changes at the local level with municipalities enforcing rules to take the control over drinking water. In the XXI century, the paradigm of centralization fell apart due to the incapacity of government and municipalities to provide drinking water. Thus, in 2015 the government promoted a reform to transfers water provision to private institutions aiming to eliminate shortages in Mexico with little success. We found that CAs have remained in the arenas of the water management, since municipalities have not been able to resolve shortages. The capacity of adaptation by CAs to new status quo of national water governance is given by some key actor that have the ability to find gaps in water legislation and their capacity to coordinate informal and formal arrangements with formal institutions. The result is a range of governance’s regimes at local level, enabling the prevalence or disappearance of many CAs. Regimes are: 1) public (municipalities; two CAs in Cuilapam de Guerrero), 2) public-community (CAs at San Martin Tilcajete), 3) community-public (one CAs in Cuilapam de Guerrero and another in San Catarina Minas) and 4) community (one CAs in Cuilapam de Guerrero). Most CAs changed from one to another regimen at different moments due to the influence of power and natural and induced shortages. We conclude that CAs persisted through time because: 1) their success in equilibrating water governance and solved drinking water provision in rural areas, 2) a strong social participation, and 3) they flexibility to collaborate with other institution (governmental, non-governmental and common property land tenure). Therefore, we suggested that inclusion of CAS in the National Law would be able to access incentives and programs to supply this vital resource in rural communities.
Chile has been one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, strongly linked to the mining industry, services sector and agriculture activities; all sectors with high demand in water resources. As water availability in Chile is dependent upon latitude and distribution of water resources is highly unequal, the competition for water consumption is very high into watershed with greatest demand from the industrial sector being uncertain the supply of drinking water for next years. Today, the main concern into sanitary industry is related to forecast the impacts of water scarcity to provide normal services for urban and rural population. Therefore, we need to understand the household consumption across Chilean localities to create models and simulations for different scenarios in a climate change framework. In this research, we analyze is there is beta-convergence of residential water consumption in Chile, in other words, we analyze if low consumption localities tend to increase their consumption faster than high consumption localities. We also analyze if there is sigma-convergence, that is, we analyze if household consumption distribution is becoming less unequal. Finally, we analyze the causes of convergence. We use descriptive statistics as well as an econometric analysis of water consumption data. The database is a monthly panel of water consumption for 266 Chilean localities from January 2010 to December 2015 (for 30 water utilities), collected from the corresponding regulatory agency and complemented with socio-economic and climate data from others sources. We estimate a growth equation to determine if there is beta-convergence, and we use descriptive statistics to show that there is also sigma-convergence. Then we estimate a Discrete-Continuous Choice model to describe water demand, and to identify the main variables explaining water consumption. Finally, we analyze the dynamics of those factors grouped by clusters of income, to identify differences related to income that could be explaining the convergence of water demand. We find beta and sigma-convergence in per household consumption across Chilean localities, given that low consumption localities tend to increase their consumption faster than high consumption localities, and that per household consumption distribution is becoming less unequal. The convergence is heading towards a greater level of consumption, which is undesirable from the point of view of sustainable development. The main reason of convergence appears to be the increase in income of poor localities, which have enabled them to consume more water.