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Transboundary salinity in the Lower Colorado River Basin: Synergies & gaps in land and water governance

Authors: Tamee Albrecht*, University of Arizona - Geography & Development
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Human-Environment Geography, Arid Regions
Keywords: transboundary river basins, salinity, water quality, agriculture, water governance
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

With nearly 3 billion people worldwide who rely on water resources from transboundary basins, protecting water quality in international rivers is crucial for human security. Despite international treaty-enforced limits on the salinity of Colorado River water that the U.S. delivers to Mexico, farmers and irrigation districts in the hyperarid agricultural region of the Mexicali Valley face salinity challenges including soil degradation and reduced crop productivity. Agricultural land management and irrigation practices are linked to water quality in the Colorado River Basin. Considering mounting drought conditions that may exacerbate downstream salinity issues, this paper examines the implementation and outcome of water quality management strategies in the transboundary Lower Colorado River Basin. Using a multi-level governance approach, we investigate how land and water management at district, national and binational levels address salinity and what synergies and gaps in salinity management exist among multiple governance levels. Such gaps underscore the important role of the local and national levels in addressing binational water challenges. 

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