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Management of the International Rio Grande and Rio Bravo for Sustainable Use

The 3,000-km-long Rio Grande (known as the Rio Bravo in Mexico), the fifth largest river in North America is a major boundary between the United States and Mexico, and central to the cultural heritage and history of the border region of both countries. Its 467,000-km2 drainage basin stretches across five Mexican and three U.S. states, with a rapidly growing population currently numbering more than 13 million inhabitants. This transboundary river is over-allocated throughout its basin, and subject to a wide range of environmental and socioeconomic stresses. Its waters are not being used in an equitable or sustainable manner in either country, and its ability to support human physical, social and economic needs, while also maintaining important ecosystems, is being overwhelmed. The projects described herein focus on development of an integrated management approach to address the serious human and environmental problems confronting this important transboundary river, with the ultimate goal of sustainable use of the river throughout its transboundary basin.

  • Regional Framework for the Development, Management and Sustainable Use of the Water Resources of the Rio Bravo Drainage Basin – Conducted in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Organization of American States (OAS), US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), Mexican National Water Commission (CONAGUA) and the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), this project is directed toward the development and application of an integrated management framework for the sustainable use of the Rio Grande throughout its international basin. Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Washington, D.C., is developing a comprehensive scientific, technical, socioeconomic governance knowledge base for subsequent development of a Transboundary Diagnostic Framework (TDA) and Strategic Action Program (SAP) directed to identifying the constraints to, and root causes of the unsustainable use of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo and solutions to this problem. Further information on this ongoing project is available on the GEF/IW:LEARN website.

  • Sustainable Agricultural Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin – Being conducted in cooperation with the Rio Grande Research Center, Sul Ross State University, The Meadows Center, Texas State University, and the Texas State University System, this multi-faceted international project focuses on development of an information and knowledge base, to be used in support of the above-noted integrated GEF project to develop a framework for managing the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin for sustainable use. Funded by the US Department of Agriculture, it involves a number of the Meadows Center staff in various activites, including extensive dedicated research efforts and related data compilation and analysis comprising projects of the five universities of the Texas State University System, adapting conjunctive use strategies for over-drafted aquifers in the Rio Grande Basin, Rio Grande agriculture water conservation, and analysis of educational status and capabilities in the Lower Rio Grande region.

    Further information on this project is available on the Rio Grande Research Center website.