Could Puerto Peñasco Desalination be the Answer to Arizona’s Future Water Problems (and Our Own)?

Oct 6, 2016 by Jim Ringquist

desalt-plantA new aqueduct capable of supplying nearly one thousand 500 million cubic meters per year is under evaluation by authorities in Sonora and Arizona, with support from academic and scientific institutions Mexico and the United States.

In the study “Desalination and water security in the border region between the US and Mexico: assessing the social, environmental and political,” the researchers analyze the effects of scarcity, economic and climate in the desalinated water produced.

The project consists of a pipeline of 270 kilometers from Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, to the Imperial Dam, located north of Yuma, Arizona, near the intersections with the states of California and Nevada.

“Although water desalination is still the most expensive option on the table, its appeal continues to grow, especially since costs have decreased by around 50% in the last decade,” said lead author Margaret Wilder, professor Development Center and Geography at the University of Arizona.

The governments of both countries expect a variety of factors increase water shortages throughout the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Because of this scenario, states like Arizona, California and Nevada are considering plans to partner with Mexico to build desalination plants near the bi-national border.

According to Wilder, she and her colleagues felt the need to develop the study because, while the promoters desalination agencies often have this option as inevitable, desalination requires a critical examination beyond a simple cost-benefit analysis.

However, he added, the political, social, economic and environmental implications require an extra evaluation.

The team conducted a case study of proposed desalination plant in the Mexican Gulf of California in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora. Wilder and colleagues investigated the proposed water plant interviewing officials and operators, making a documentary research, and by conducting workshops with state and local actors.

Improving efficiency, water reuse and other long-term sustainable alternatives should it be used before resorting to desalination he said.

In addition, although the US and Mexico have a recent history of friendly sharing of water, it requires sustained cooperation between countries and guaranteed water supply to be long term, he said.

Here is the introduction and link to the study:

Desalination and water security in the US-Mexico border region: assessing the social, environmental and political impacts Margaret O. Wilder, Ismael Aguilar-Barajas, Nicolás Pineda-Pablos, Robert G. Varady, Sharon B. Megdal, Jamie McEvoy, Robert Merideth, Adriana A. Zúñiga-Terán & Christopher A. Scott

To cite this article: Margaret O. Wilder, Ismael Aguilar-Barajas, Nicolás Pineda-Pablos, Robert G. Varady, Sharon B. Megdal, Jamie McEvoy, Robert Merideth, Adriana A. Zúñiga-Terán & Christopher A. Scott (2016): Desalination and water security in the US-Mexico border region: assessing the social, environmental and political impacts, Water International, DOI: 10.1080/02508060.2016.1166416

To link to the report: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02508060.2016.1166416.

This article is brought to you by the Sonoran Resorts Sales Team, www.sonoranresorts.mx, Jim Ringquist, Director of Sales and Marketing.

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