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The key themes synthesised are: the historical evolution of water supply in Mexico; geographical differences in Mexico in relation to water resources; the rural-urban division in relation to water supply; the inherent problems with rural water supply; improvements made to rural water supply, and the successes and failures of the steps taken. Several sources have traced the history of water supply in Mexico, the key details of which are discussed briefly.

Between and the end of the s, water provision underwent dramatic reform with the creation of the Conagua, which is now one of the most important organizations related to water supply in the country to date. Conagua is an administrative, normative, technical, consultative, and decentralized agency of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources.

Its mission is to achieve sustainable use, while its vision is to ensure Mexico is a nation that has sufficient water in both quantity and quality Conagua, Consequently, the Commission made a number of changes required to improve the decentralization process, including better transparency of water tariffs and autonomous water tariffs -linked with the actual price of water supply and free of government control- the result of which was a great deal of new legislation and the amendment of much of the existing one Verner, ; The World Bank, ; Pablos, Since , a number of further reforms have been made, including rural areas being given responsibility of more functions involving water supply, incorporating decisions related to funding The World Bank, That is why it has not had success.

At the regional level, Conagua performs its functions of monitoring and conducting through 13 Basin Organizations, whose field of competence are 13 Hydrological-Administrative Regions, and in each one of them there may be one or several Basin Councils Conagua, a. These basin organizations were introduced into the national water law of , together with the restructuring of river basin councils DOF, Basin councils were defined as joint bodies of mixed integration, which are instances of coordination, consultation, support, and advice, between Conagua -including federal agencies and entities, State or municipal- and representatives of water users and society organizations DOF, Normatively, in the Councils only the President, the Governmental Vocals, and Users have voice and vote.

On the other hand, the less affluent Southern parts of Mexico are characterised by plentiful water resources Guigale et al. Moreover, such resources are not up to the necessary standard to act as the foundation for strong economic progression and environmental sustainability Guigale et al. These areas are where political power and revenue expenditure lay. With a notable few exceptions, a growing GDP has led to more and more people formerly living in rural areas relocating to urban areas, which has led to a burgeoning gap between urban and rural demographics Alfaro, ; The World Bank, Yet, in other than such areas, rural water supply has historically been poor.

In some rural parts of the country, water is distributed through a pipe of some sort, but the water is not treated properly and is not entirely safe for people to drink; this forces people to solve their water issue in various ways, including bottled water and filters Llamas et al. Many rural areas in Mexico do not have water treatment facilities, and if the water in these areas, normally stored in small reservoirs, is not fit for human consumption, people often ignore this fact and drink it anyway, the dangers of which are substantial Deininger et al. In very small rural areas, where water from nearby sources -such as springs and streams- is stored in hand-made reservoirs, someone is given the responsibility for the maintenance of water distribution systems, often with the help of other residents Arreola, ; Johnston, In some rural areas, where government initiatives have not been of particular utility, bottled water is the key solution.

In rural areas private wells may be found, but they are few and located at a considerable distance.

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A part of this system consists of implementation of plans and programs. For example, new water treatment plants have been built and the water network has been expanded in many parts of Mexico. Hence, the improvements made, despite being lesser than in urban areas, are appreciable. Since the decentralization of water supply in Mexico, as previously discussed, both water supply and sanitation is tasked to each municipal area. Water supply in rural areas is also controlled using a variety of mechanisms, facilitated by government legislation.

For example, alongside water boards, the responsibility for water supply management is also given to water committees, management units tasked with managing sustainable development, and community organisation initiatives Galindo- Escamilla, E.

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This involves the fulfilment of the Prossapys program objectives focused on building infrastructure to increase drinking water supply, sewage systems, and sanitation. Government efforts indicate that in there was an increase in drinking water coverage in rural areas, and during the year , 8. Improvements in water management have also been made thanks to community water management, which aims to improve integrated water management in rural areas; this involves the whole process of management.


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However, this is a form of selfmanagement without the full participation of the government. However, such utilities should not be criticized without consideration of why their performance was lacking. Essentially, the key issue was that water infrastructure required greater investment but people were unwilling to spend money on water services when the quality of water was so low. Doing so would put an end to the vicious cycle in which customers are unwilling to pay for poor quality service and utilities do not have the means to improve their service OECD, As a result of the work of Conagua and high-performing utilities, rural water supply has definitely improved.

A few rural areas have managed to develop their water supply services with general success, running at optimum efficiency as the result of the implementation of models that have permitted them to broaden their services to cater to the needs of as many of the local residents as possible. It is estimated that by the end of the coverage of drinking water was While improvements have been made, it is still ostensibly clear that not all rural water boards have the technical, financial, commercial, and technical resources OECD, a necessary for the provision of excellent water and sanitation services in an efficient way Pearce-Oroz, ; SADM, Moreover, decision-making power is still centralised within the hands of Conagua, despite the fact that the government opted for decentralization.

While some rural utilities manage to operate with efficiency now, the overwhelming majority remain disarticulated Deskota Study Team, ; OECD, a , lacking independence with regards to their operation, facing real pressure from the residents -and groups serving the interests of those residents- of the areas they cover, and struggling to cover the costs of their services Arana, ; Deskota Study Team, ; OECD, For example, Mexican states and municipalities have greater independence than before, and water users and individuals participate in water management, but they still need to be taken more into account by Conagua.

This is the case of river basin councils, which have supported federal agencies and entities DOF, , although it is still necessary to position them in a good place to avoid centralized decision-making of Conagua OECD, a. While the popularity of corporate involvement in the provision of water and sanitation services is observable OECD, a , potentially because of the new legislation, the proposed General Water Law which was not approved but people are still waiting for a new law , encouraged corporate involvement Arana, , primarily in urban centres OECD, a.

In , over While the General Water Law was designed with the intention of surmounting the financial problems encountered by urban areas in this respect, it has been criticized as actually being detrimental to the provision of urban water supply Arana, ; OECD, It is suggested that helping rural areas struggling in financial and capacity terms, the diversity of Mexican water utilities must be taken into consideration OECD, a. At present, people are still being asked to pay for water, which is substandard. While the problem still persists, albeit on a smaller scale than before, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.

In what seems to be a slower process than may be expected, improvements in the quality and efficiency of water supply in rural areas are still being made, and as time passes, these improvements should lead to more robust financial autonomy and sustainability Arana, ; Esparza, Investment in rural areas is also ongoing, and while most corporate investments are made in urban water and sanitation services, more and more financial assistance is being provided by foreign organizations.

On the whole, the majority of water and sanitation services are funded by Mexican organizations, but The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank contribute substantial figures on a regular basis to the development of water and sanitation service providers. The government has rolled out a programme consisting of a State Committee for Rural Development which focuses on planning and implementing rural productivity programs in order to strengthen the capacities of water service providers and encourage sustainable use of water in rural areas, based on interaction with the communities and their residents.

However, one of the most successful programs is Prossapys UNAM, ; IDB, , which should continue supporting marginalized rural communities in the next years, regardless of the political party that is in power to manage the resource.

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Also, clear rules should be established to avoid non-compliance with operating regulations for the investment of public resources because this is a latent problem OECD, a. In the case of community water management, the government should help this management look for ways to benefit communities because some of them work better without being subject to the governmental regulatory framework to support them. Historically, it is unambiguous why water supply in Mexico in general, and particularly in rural areas, has been problematic; the first culprit is the geographical location of rural areas and the positioning of water resources.

The second was centralization, since the main resource management organizations in the country are in urban areas. The third was decentralization carried out in a hugely ineffective manner. The decentralization of water and sanitation services, in addition to tasking each municipality with the responsibility of their own water management, attained some degree of success.

Nevertheless, in most rural areas, water supply does not cover their entire population and it is not of the same quality as in urban areas. Moreover, efforts made by Conagua and a number of high- performing water utilities have proved themselves to be inadequate in the poorest rural areas, where the financial framework and capabilities to manage their own water supply are seriously lacking. Although the water law of involved a greater number of water users through river basin councils, they still have limited capacities and are subject to the central power of Conagua. New legislative reforms are waiting to resolve these issues, improving financial sustainability and building capacities, as ongoing efforts are made at state and local levels, as well as internationally.

An attempt was made with the proposed national water law of that failed. A substantial proportion of the literature on this topic has been reviewed, which helps to understand the main rural water supply problems in Mexico. However, further work in each Mexican state and municipality is required to understand the particularities of each entity. Aguilar Amilpa, E. IDB Irena Renewable energy prospects: Mexico. ITA Johnston, B. US-Mexico relations: agriculture and rural development. Llamas, M. Water ethics: Marcelino Botin water forum. Miller, D.

Studies on rural development: studies on rural water supply systems.

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Miller, C. Fluid arguments: five centuries of water conflict. Molle, F. River basin trajectories: societies, environments, and development. OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Mexico OECD a. OECD b. Pablos, N.

Mexico City's water crisis – from source to sewer

Region y Sociedad , 14 24 , Pearce-Oroz, G. Perry, C. Water as an economic good: a solution, or a problem? Pimentel-Equihua, J. Agricultura, sociedad y desarrollo , 9 2 , Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Board Private solutions for infrastructure in Mexico: country framework report for private participation in infrastructure. Reid, C. SADM Mission and vision. Sagarpa Sandoval-Moreno, A. Ra Ximhai , 9 2 , Programa Escuelas de Excelencia para abatir el Rezago Educativo. Decreto por el que se reforman, adicionan y derogan diversas disposiciones de la Ley de Aguas Nacionales.

Scott, C. Water management centralization. International Journal of Water Resources Development , 24 1 , In Biswas, A. Shretha, S. Stockholm International Water Institute Spring, U.


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The United Nations The World Bank World Development Report Agriculture for Development. Decentralized Infrastructure Reform and Development Loan. Paris, France: The World Bank. UNAM Verner, D. We Are Water Rural women, a fundamental pillar for water management. Wilder, M.

World Development , 34 11 , World Water Assessment Programme London, UK: Unesco. Rural Water Supply in Mexico. Cuadernos de Desarrollo Rural, 13 78 , This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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Services on Demand Article. English pdf Article in xml format Article references How to cite this article Automatic translation Send this article by e-mail. Abstract The supply of water to rural areas has historically provided the Mexican government with a significant challenge. Key words: Mexico; rural water; water supply. Historical timeline of water supply in Mexico Several sources have traced the history of water supply in Mexico, the key details of which are discussed briefly.

Discussion While improvements have been made, it is still ostensibly clear that not all rural water boards have the technical, financial, commercial, and technical resources OECD, a necessary for the provision of excellent water and sanitation services in an efficient way Pearce-Oroz, ; SADM, Conclusions Historically, it is unambiguous why water supply in Mexico in general, and particularly in rural areas, has been problematic; the first culprit is the geographical location of rural areas and the positioning of water resources.

References Aguilar Amilpa, E. Received: September 16, ; Accepted: November 21, Colombia, Transversal 4 No. In seven parts a multidisciplinary team analyzes hydrological processes in basins and their interaction with climate, soil and biota. Competing water use in agriculture, industry and domestic needs require savings, decontamination processes and desalination to satisfy the growing demand.

Water quality affects health and ecosystems. This creates conflicts and cooperation that may be enhanced by public policy, institution building and social organization. Product details Format Hardback pages Dimensions x x Other books in this series. Add to basket. Table of contents Part I: Hydrological processes, management of basins and their interaction with climate, soil and biota. Learn about new offers and get more deals by joining our newsletter.