Roberto Ramírez de la Parra
Director General
CONAGUA
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A Glimpse of Mexico´s Water Policy

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:32

Q: How is Mexico positioned in the international arena in terms of water management, and how is it implementing international best practices?

A: Mexico is a point of reference in water management given its hydrological diversity, the unique challenges it faces, and the new solutions implemented by the government. We have been active in the international arena by working with different organizations and associations like the World Water Council (WWC), International Water Association (IWA), American Water Works Association (AWWA), the World Bank, OCDE, and UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP). It is also important to note that we are actively aligning our activities to the new objectives for sustainable development that will be defined by the International Water Agenda until 2030. In addition, we are working on the goals that were set out by President Peña Nieto during the general assembly of the UN, as well as creating an intergovernmental water panel. The objective of this panel is to develop technical capacities in order to tackle climate change and to obtain the support of other countries and organizations.

Q: How would you describe the way CONAGUA collaborates with other agencies in order to mitigate the effects of climate change like drought and floods?

A: Mitigating and preventing the risks associated with climate change is one of the toughest challenges we have to tackle in terms of water. CONAGUA has played an integral part in the success stories over the past three years, one of which was the protection of over 900,000 inhabitants across 11 states against flooding.

The construction of important infrastructures like the 100km of deep tunnels intersecting the Valley of Mexico, the Hydrological Program in Tabasco, and the Nuevo Guerrero Plan are among others. To mitigate flooding and droughts we have created a new Inter-Ministerial Commission that implements preventive programs. We have deep ties with SAGARPA and this will enable us to develop practices that integrate efficiency and sustainability with water management. Another important strategy is to increase efficiency of dams in order to cover the demand for the coming two years.

Q: Most of the renewable energy CFE generates comes from hydropower. How is CONAGUA improving permitting processes for both CFE and private players in order to incentivize the creation of hydropower plants?

A: The federal government is attempting to improve the permitting processes across a wide array of sectors, and particularly in water permits emitted by CONAGUA. The agency already has a pre-established protocol that defines the deadlines in all the permits that it receives. In terms of the projects CFE presents to CONAGUA, the close collaboration allows a quick response to queries, analyses, and ensures that the projects are safe and operable.

For CONAGUA, all players are important and as such the permits that are granted are related to the availability of national waters. The Energy Reform promotes clean and renewable energies such as geothermal, which uses water vapor and represents a reliable and clean energy source. As a testament to this commitment, in July 2015 we granted CFE the first water concession for the use of geothermal water.

Q: What role does CONAGUA anticipate for Mexico in the adoption of sustainable water management strategies?

A: So far, several initiatives have been carried out to achieve a greener and more sustainable management of this precious resource. For example, we have forbidden the drilling of water in different regions of the country without our direct authorization. This measure is of great relevance and allows us better control over the 10 billion m3 of underwater resources. In addition, we are working with international specialists for the recovery of ten contaminated aquifers across the country and removal of the negative factors that affect them, which represent an unprecedented effort from our part. Another important development sparked by the 1913 act signed between Mexico and the US is the release of over 130 million m3 of water in the delta of the Colorado River. This volume of water will allow the ecological development of 950 acres and will benefit the flora and fauna located there. This is an excellent example of successful bilateral cooperation in the management of water resources.