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10th Conference on Applied Infrastructure Research “Institutional Models in Infrastructure Sectors – Conceptual Issues and Empirical Evidence” Friday, 7 October, 201114:15 – 15:00 Technical University Berlin “Water Allocation and Use:  Recent Research and Policy Issues” Frank A. WardNew Mexico State University USA


Q: What modern water policy debates influence the allocation and use of water? A: Dividing Transboundary Waters Focus of Talk: Dividing the Waters for Peace

road map
Road Map
  • River Basins
  • Background Issue
  • Principles
  • Need for Water Sharing Agreements
  • A Successful Agreement: The Rio Grande Compact
  • A Controversial Agreement: The Pecos Compact
  • A Model Agreement: Sharing Inflows
  • Could IRBA help inform debates on alternative ways of sharing the Nile’s flows among its countries? Especially
    • Ethiopia
    • Sudan
    • Egypt
rio grande
Rio Grande
  • Rio Grande Compact: It defines rules for sharing water among the US riparians:
    • Colorado
    • New Mexico
    • Texas
tigris euphrates
  • Can IRBA help identify economic effects of water sharing arrangements among riparians?
balkh basin afghanistan1
Balkh Basin, Afghanistan
  • Main staple is wheat
  • 14 canal systems share River’s water.
  • Mirabs’ communication
  • Little central or regional govt. authority to enforce water rights.
  • Water wasted at top of watershed. So no reliable water at lower lands.
  • How should water rights be defined and river flows shared for promoting peace and food security?
  • Previous IRBA
    • Nile, Egypt
    • Balkh, Afghanistan
    • Murray, Australia
    • Rio Grande, USA
    • Amu Darya, Central Asia
    • Tigris-Euphrates
    • Nilufur, Turkey
    • Jordan
  • Aims: Examine barriers and opportunities for forging sustainable international water sharing agreements.
  • Means: Identify and illustrate principles that motivate cooperation among states to draft and implement lasting settlements.
  • For a water sharing agreement to last, all parties must secure and sustain a greater benefit with the agreement than without.
  • For an agreement to sustain these benefits, it must have flexibility to adapt to future changes in
    • water supplies
    • population
    • climate
    • technology
    • infrastructure
    • political boundaries
    • economic activity
benefits of transboundary water sharing agreement in promoting peace
Benefits of Transboundary Water Sharing Agreement (in promoting peace)
  • Each state develops water independently, needing only to meets downstream obligations…new lands, new reservoirs, growing populations,…
  • Reduces uncertainty
    • Future population
    • Future industry, environmental needs


  • Irrigable land, Headwater supplies
  • Sustain key ecological assets
  • Hydrologic balance
  • Reservoir starting levels (sw, gw)
  • Reservoir sustainability constraints (sw, gw)
  • Institutional
    • Endangered Species Act
    • Rio Grande Compact (CO-NM; NM-TX)
    • US Mexico Treaty of 1906
    • Rio Grande Project water sharing history (NM/TX)

Gauged Flows: Hydro Balance

  • E.g.: Lobatosgauge (CO-NM border):

X(Lobatos_v,1) = X(RG_h,1) - X(SLV_d,1) + X(SLV_r,1)

results rio grande basin
Results: Rio Grande Basin
  • Policy: Subsidize drip irrigation with an upper bound on existing depletions to guarantee downstream delivery obligations
one successful sharing agreement the rio grande compact divides annual natural flows
One Successful Sharing Agreement: The Rio Grande CompactDivides Annual Natural Flows
rio grande compact has a water sharing formula 1000 acre feet year
Rio Grande Compact: Has a Water Sharing Formula(1000 acre feet / year)
  • Colorado delivers to New Mexico
  • New Mexico delivers to Texas
results economic value of water sharing under the rio grande compact
Results: Economic value of water sharing under the Rio Grande Compact
  • Colorado: knows it has an upper bound on delivery requirements
  • New Mexico: has a guaranteed water supply from CO and an upper bound on deliveries to Texas.
  • Texas: has a guaranteed supply
  • Total Value of Compact: about 30% of economic value of water would be lost without RG Compact. All states would have a lower value of water because of greater uncertainty of supplies
one controversial agreement the pecos river compact
One Controversial Agreement: The Pecos River Compact
  • “. . . New Mexico shall not deplete by man's activities the flow of the Pecos River at the New Mexico-Texas state line below an amount which will give to Texas a quantity of water equivalent to that available to Texas under the 1947 condition. . . “
water sharing agreements and infrastructure
Water Sharing Agreements and Infrastructure
  • Sustained international water agreements can enhance the development of water infrastructure.  Examples
    • reservoirs
    • irrigation facilities
    • water treatment facilities
    • piped in water
    • peace pipelines
    • environmental restorations
needs for future research
Needs for future Research
  • What can be done to promote establishment of water sharing agreements when current conditions don’t favor them?
    • When governments are corrupt
    • When there is no history of water sharing among the communities?
    • When water rights are poorly defined or assigned to the most powerful
    • When two countries won’t talk to each other?
    • Could an IRBA promote discussion?