River Basin Councils and Sustainability Planning in Sonora

Project Dates

As part of a decentralized governance strategy under the influence of the World Bank, Mexico turned a greater focus on river basin councils as a principal feature of its water management structure. Reforms to Mexico’s National Water Law (LAN) in April 2004 strengthened the existing provisions of the LAN for a regional watershed approach. Of a national network of 25 major river basin councils whose creation is mandated in the legislation, three are located in the state of Sonora. A hierarchy of subregional and local watershed councils are located there as well.

The three Sonoran river basin councils (consejos de cuenca) are the Matape-Yaqui Council, the Rio Mayo Council, and the Alto Noroeste (Upper Northwest) Council, which includes watersheds in the northern part of Sonora. River basin councils are comprised of one representative from each of five major economic sectors, including urban, industrial, ranching, agriculture, and hydroelectric.

The councils discuss planning and coordination of water use and issues related to major river basins, thereby opening—at least in theory—new windows of possibility for the use of climate information and climate science to guide water use planning that could result in a more environmentally sustainable resolution of water problems and conflicts. This research explored the potential use of climate information by the river basin councils.