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The decentralization of urban water management brings decision making about urban water provision closer to local communities, but the new management model lacks sufficient financial resources to address increasing urban demands. Recent planning discussions regarding the creation of a climate science/society center in Sonora represent a major step toward a more even and effective dissemination of climate information to local water managers. An enhanced focus on social stakeholders is likely to lead to ongoing involvement of local communities in urban water policy making. The decentralization “experiment” is quite new and has not had time to mature. The decentralized model continues to hold substantial potential to utilize climate information and engage stakeholders in order to create a more sustainable future, but the necessary technical and financial resources are critical to realizing this great potential.
Climate specific results reveal that water managers’ access to climate science information and climate products in Sonora vary between large cities and small cities. Larger cities, such as Hermosillo, have enhanced access to climate science information and climate products, and are able to employ technical personnel that can interpret and use these data effectively. However, mid to small city water managers report very limited access and personnel do not have the technical expertise to effectively interpret and use climate information and products. Due to the uneven distribution and access of climate science products, few urban areas in Sonora or the border region report an increased use of climate information to inform their water use planning.
River basin councils are an essential component of an integrated water resource management strategy, which is believed to lead to more environmentally sustainable outcomes, as water user sectors work together to find solutions and compromises on areas of conflict. The river basin councils in Sonora are only recently being formed, and because there is not a history of coordination and planning at the river basin level, implementation and agenda-setting has been slow. In addition, the composition of river basin councils is so comprehensive that even bringing the council together in a meeting of the full creates logistical problems, since some council members are rarely available for meeting attendance. The river basin councils also lack the formal jurisdiction within the appropriate legal frameworks to carry out recommendations, creating a major limiting factor in their ability to have a real impact on the issues under discussion. The lack of jurisdiction, in turn, makes council participants less willing to give time to a process which is likely to have only limited impacts on important issues.
River basins successfully engage water user sectors in participating in council deliberations, coordination, and planning, as set forth in the legal frameworks governing the river basin council composition. River basin council participation is based upon one-representative-per-sector; however this apportionment is not reflective of actual societal water use and is believed by some to be skewed and unfair. Government representation is also disproportionately high on river basin councils, compared with very limited representation allowed from the citizens’ sector. Marginal groups, such as the urban poor or the ejido farmers, are not represented on river basin councils.