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Agricultural change due to water policy along the US-Mexico border: Imperial and Mexicali Valleys

Authors: Trent Biggs*, San Diego State University, Gabriela Morales, San Diego State University, Joel Kramer, Weston Solutions
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: water, remote sensing, agriculture
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual Track 9
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) has resulted in significant agriculture-urban water transfers from the Imperial and Mexicali valleys along the US-Mexico border. The QSA impacts growers in the United States directly by incentivizing water conservation measures, and impacts farmers in Mexico indirectly through canal-lining projects that reduced recharge to transboundary aquifers. The net impact of the QSA and water conservation on agricultural land use, productivity, and farmer livelihoods have not been determined. Here, we combine valley-wide statistics of agricultural production and employment, remote sensing of land cover dynamics, and interviews with key informants and growers in both the US and Mexico to document the various impacts of the QSA on water and land use on both sides of the border. We find that i) water delivery to the Imperial Valley decreased by ~10%, but the value of the agricultural product increased by 40% during the period of QSA implementation (2003-2018); ii) remote sensing identified hotspots of change in the Mexicali Valley, which field interviews confirmed was caused by the lining of the All American Canal as part of the QSA.

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