Rethinking Transboundary Ground Water Resources Management: A Local Approach along the Mexico-U.S. Border

34 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2013 Last revised: 25 Oct 2013

See all articles by Gabriel Eckstein

Gabriel Eckstein

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: 2013


Despite more than forty years of promises to the contrary, neither Mexico nor the United States have shown any inclination to pursue a border-wide pact to coordinate management of the border region’s transboundary ground water resources. As a result, these critical resources – which serve as the sole or primary source of fresh water for most border communities on both sides – are being overexploited and polluted, leaving the local population with little recourse. Imminently unsustainable, the situation portends a grim future for the region.

In the absence of national governmental interests and involvement on either side of the frontier, this article advocates an alternative approach, one that sidesteps the respective federal authorities. It proposes that subnational entities at the regional and local level pursue cooperation in the form of locally-specific, cross-border arrangements. These may take the form of informal memorandum of understanding, or more structured contracts for goods or services. Under the unique circumstances of the Mexico-U.S. border, such arrangements are likely more achievable and apt to create viable cross-border pacts that would be respected by the local communities. Moreover, they are more likely to achieve a sustainable and water-secure future for the border, its communities, and the natural environment.

Keywords: transboundary aquifer, groundwater, Mexico, United States, international water law

JEL Classification: K32, K33, N50, Q15, Q25, Q28, Q38

Suggested Citation

Eckstein, Gabriel, Rethinking Transboundary Ground Water Resources Management: A Local Approach along the Mexico-U.S. Border (2013). Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (GIELR), Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 95-128, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Gabriel Eckstein (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

United States
817-212-3912 (Phone)

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