The water-energy-climate nexus: Resources and policy outlook for aquifers in Mexico

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Abstract

Three interlinked processes drive groundwater balances in diverse regions globally: (1) groundwater-irrigation intensification, (2) electrical energy supply for agriculture, and (3) climatic variability. Mexico's water-energy-climate nexus offers generic lessons because of its water scarcity and institutional reforms followed in other emerging economies. This paper analyzes data for 280 aquifers in Mexico, all registered water users, population projections, 2010-2100 precipitation and temperature projections for A1B and A2 emissions scenarios from 15 general circulation models, and 1999-2009 agricultural electricity use. Under A2 emissions, aquifers with negative balances will increase from 92 to 130 in number between 2010 and 2100, and the national groundwater deficit will increase by 21.3 km 3. Under A2 and medium-variant population growth (which peaks midcentury), negative-balance aquifers will increase from 92 to 133, and the national groundwater deficit will increase by 22.4 km 3. Agricultural power pricing offers a nexus-based policy tool to address aquifer depletion, an opportunity that was lost with the 2003 reduction in nighttime tariffs. Under A2, medium-variant population, and simulated 2% real annual increases in agricultural power tariffs, negative-balance aquifers will increase from 92 to 111, and the national groundwater deficit will increase by 17.5 km 3 between 2010 and 2100. Regulatory and user-based groundwater management initiatives indicate growing awareness of aquifer depletion; however, the long-term outlook points to continued depletion. This raises the need to harness nexus-based policy options, i.e., increasing agricultural power tariffs, eliminating reduced nighttime tariffs, enforcing legislation linking groundwater extraction to power use, and limiting new power connections for groundwater wells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW00L04
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume47
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 19 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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