ISTPP collaborated with the Program in Natural Resources Systems in the Texas A&M University School of Law and the Texas Water Resources Institute to study the complexity of the governance structure that oversees the up to 15 transboundary aquifers along the Texas-Mexico border. The resulting report, “Survey of Legal Mechanisms Relating to Groundwater Along the Texas-Mexico Border,” identifies the myriad local, state, federal, and international entities and the treaties, laws, and regulations that govern the transboundary aquifers. The report delineates overlaps and gaps in the governance structures and the ways these create opportunities for both cooperation and conflict between and among groundwater regulators from both Texas and Mexico. Finding ways to encourage and leverage multi-level government cooperation between Texas and Mexico is becoming increasingly critical for protecting aquifer sustainability while efficiently allocating use of the waters to the growing populations along the border.
A basic and profound difference in water governance in Texas and Mexico is the ownership status of the water resource. Mexican law declares all ground and surface water within its jurisdiction as public property. Texas’ laws, however, establish groundwater as private property, and the State owns the surface water. The executive branch of Mexico has immense authority in regulating how water is extracted and allocated from transboundary aquifers, but private citizens in Texas have the ability to extract groundwater on their property with little regulation. The disparity in regulatory practices between Texas and Mexico leads to many of the extraction practices involving these transboundary aquifers being difficult to catalogue. This study serves as the beginning of a larger study between ISTPP, Texas A&M School of Law, and the Texas Water Resources Institute on groundwater governance on the Texas-Mexico border.
Foster, Jessica. 2018. Survey of Legal Mechanisms Relating to Groundwater Along the Texas-Mexico Border. Texas A&M University School of Law Program in Natural Resources Systems, Fort Worth, TX.