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Risk Perception and Trust in International Transboundary Groundwater sharing: Texas-Mexico pilot project

Authors: Lindsay Sansom*, Texas A&M University
Topics: Global Change, Water Resources and Hydrology, Environmental Perception
Keywords: transboundary water, risk perception, trust, conflict, cooperation, Texas-Mexico
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study measures how risks are perceived by different stakeholder groups, what role trust plays in binational cooperation or conflict, and how risk perception and trust impact willingness to cooperate or engage in conflict over transboundary water sharing, with a focus on groundwater. This is a pilot project to test the application of a novel approach to measuring risk perception and trust for international transboundary water sharing.

Along the Texas-Mexico border, different management regimes, property rights, and uses for groundwater are overlapping or conflicting, which has led to unilateral takings on both sides of the border and severe aquifer degradation. In the face of surface water scarcity and increased reliance on groundwater resources, improved water security requires binational counterparts to behave in cooperative ways.

A cross-sectional study design was used to collect and analyze survey data from known transboundary water policy decision-makers in Texas along the border with Mexico. Data was collected regarding individual perceptions of risk and trust, levels of binational stakeholder engagement, and attitudes toward cooperation or conflict. Data was aggregated into institutional settings and analyzed across tiers of governance. Results identify points of contention and disunity between decision-makers in Texas and Mexico and guide interventions to promote cooperation over transboundary water.

This research provides insight into how trust and perception of risk impacts cooperation over shared water resources and offers proof of concept for a novel approach to measuring attitudes and behaviors regarding cooperation over transboundary waters, which is a growing issue all over the world.

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