Planning for Water Scarcity: The Vulnerability of the Laguna Region, Mexico



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This dissertation examined declining groundwater availability and management strategies for addressing water shortages in the Laguna region located in the states of Coahuila and Durango. Excessive pumping of groundwater in the Laguna region has resulted in a dramatic decline in the water level of the aquifer and in the region's water supply. Since agriculture has been highly dependent on groundwater, this may lead dramatic changes in the agricultural sector of the regional economy. This research was an exploratory investigation of water users' beliefs and of options regarding water scarcity that could help design a stakeholder framework for planning the region's water resources. To address this problem, a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques were used. A systems theory simulation model was used to measure the economic vulnerability of the main agricultural products at different scenarios of water volume in the aquifer. Grounded theory methodology was used to address water users' beliefs concerning water conditions and planning strategies. Preference and feasibility analysis was used to identify the most preferable planning strategies among water stakeholders. Statistical analyses were used to support the results of the quantitative assessments. The results of the simulation model showed a significant impact on economic production given different scenarios of water volume and of higher probabilities of droughts. From the qualitative assessment four main findings were identified: lack of localized data, cognitive communication dissonance, disagreement on problem identification and disagreement on possible solutions. From the preference and feasibility analysis, the most favored strategies were: more comprehensive research, conservation campaigns, education and investment for water efficiency techniques. The lowest values were gained by privatization, new drillings, decentralization, construction of new dams, and the continuation of the actual pumping condition. Results showed there was no preference for dramatic changes in the actual model of water use. The vulnerability of the region was not shown to be equal among users; it was higher for communal users and cities, and lesser for private farmers and industries. The potential for sustainability was not high enough to expect a significant change in the near future in the water planning process.