Third World Centre for Water Management

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Water Projects in Mexico

Mexico is well ahead of many developed and developing countries in many ways, especially in terms of the numbers of water projects constructed, successful transfer of irrigation districts and development of informal markets for groundwater. However, the deterioration of the natural resources of the country, water resources being one of them, due to improper management is not improving the lifestyle of the vast majority of the population in any significant way. Accordingly, extensive modifications in the planning and management processes, including consideration of environmental and social factors and stakeholder participation, are urgently necessary for the water sector. This paper includes an analysis of the environmental impact statements of water projects in Mexico which are under the responsibility of the national water authority. It concludes that the unsatisfactory quality of the EIS of water projects in Mexico represents a serious limitation for developing any post-project evaluation or impact management. The institutional arrangements necessary for implementing the proposed measures are not defined, and the costs of implementing any recommendation are not properly budgeted for in the cost tables. Finally, not only should the reports be critically analysed, but also the whole process of their preparation and approval should be objectively and critically reviewed. This analysis should indicate clearly the shortcomings of the process, and the outline what steps could be taken to overcome them in order to ensure the sustainability of water projects in Mexico. The emphasis should be on producing a streamlined and implementable process.

Cecilia Tortajada, 2002, Research Report, Third World Centre for Water Management, Mexico 
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