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Open AccessArticle

Can the Adoption of Desalination Technology Lead to Aquifer Preservation? A Case Study of a Sociotechnical Water System in Baja California Sur, Mexico

Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, P.O. Box 173480, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA
Academic Editor: Benoit Demars
Water 2015, 7(10), 5224-5238; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7105224
Received: 17 July 2015 / Revised: 22 September 2015 / Accepted: 24 September 2015 / Published: 29 September 2015
There is growing concern about the sustainability of groundwater supplies worldwide. In many regions, desalination—the conversion of saline water to freshwater—is viewed as a way to increase water supplies and reduce pressure on overdrawn aquifers. Using data from reports, articles, interviews, a survey, and a focus group, this paper examines if, and how, the adoption of desalination technology can lead to aquifer preservation in Baja California Sur (BCS), Mexico. The paper outlines existing institutional arrangements (i.e., laws, rules, norms, or organizations) surrounding desalination in BCS and concludes that there are currently no effective mechanisms to ensure aquifer preservation. Four mechanisms that could be implemented to improve groundwater management are identified, including: 1) integrated water-and land-use planning; 2) creation of an institute responsible for coordinated and consistent planning; 3) improved groundwater monitoring; and 4) implementation of water conservation measures prior to the adoption of desalination technology. This paper concludes that viewing water technologies, including desalination, as sociotechnical systems—i.e., a set of technological components that are embedded in complex social, political, and economic contexts—has the potential to create a more sustainable human–environment–technology relationship. By assessing desalination technology as a sociotechnical system, this study highlights the need to focus on institutional development and capacity building, especially within local water utilities and urban planning agencies. View Full-Text
Keywords: desalination; aquifer preservation; sociotechnical systems; Mexico desalination; aquifer preservation; sociotechnical systems; Mexico
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McEvoy, J. Can the Adoption of Desalination Technology Lead to Aquifer Preservation? A Case Study of a Sociotechnical Water System in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Water 2015, 7, 5224-5238.

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