Desalination and water security in the US-Mexico border region: assessing the social, environmental and political impacts


Margaret O Wilder, Ismael Aguilar-Barajas, Nicolas Pineda-Pablos, Robert G Varady, Sharon B Megdal, Jamie McEvoy, Robert Merideth, Adriana A Zuniga-Teran, Christopher A Scott


Water International


In the western US-Mexico border region, both countries' authorities look to desalination as a means to meet increased demands for dwindling supplies. In addition to several existing or planned desalination plants, plans exist to develop projects along Mexico's coasts to convert seawater into freshwater primarily for conveyance and consumption in the United States. Even though desalination systems have the potential to increase water supply in the region, there are associated consequences, costs and constraints. To understand the impacts of such binational desalination systems, this paper assesses, through a water-security framework, the case of a proposed desalination plant on the Upper Gulf of California. The analysis suggests that for binational desalination systems, there are several key areas of impact against which the benefits of increased water supply must be weighed.



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