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Open AccessArticle

Valuation of Hidden Water Ecosystem Services: The Replacement Cost of the Aquifer System in Central Mexico

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Centro de Estudios Demográficos, Urbanos y Ambientales, El Colegio de México, Carretera Picacho Ajusco 20, Col. Ampliación Fuentes del Pedregal, C.P. 14110 Tlalpan, Mexico City 14110, Mexico
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El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Carretera a Reforma km 15.5 s/n, Ra Guineo 2a Seccion, Villahermosa, Tabasco 86027, Mexico
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2017, 9(8), 571; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9080571
Received: 29 April 2017 / Revised: 7 July 2017 / Accepted: 21 July 2017 / Published: 31 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Economics and Policy)
This paper reports research estimating the costs of replacing the groundwater that the metropolitan areas of Mexico City, Toluca, and Cuernavaca, in Central Mexico, pump from 10 over-exploited aquifers with 6 supply alternatives of surface water. These aquifers provide about 70% of the water required by more than 28 million people, and their recharge zones in forested areas are increasingly threatened by economic activities. By designing a constrained optimization program that minimizes investment and operation costs, we found that replacing groundwater extraction involves the construction of all six alternatives at an estimated cost of US$25 billion at present values (US$0.6 m−3 over a 26-year period). We designed and analyzed a scenario to combine measures to reduce water leaks in Mexico City; a positive balance was found: every dollar invested in leak control reduces replacement costs by between US$1.9 and US$8.4. Therefore, our results suggest the prioritization of leak control measures in order to reduce extraction from over-exploited aquifers. Local authorities should be warned about the economics of losing ecosystem services that are crucial to sustaining the population and the economic activities in the region of study. View Full-Text
Keywords: replacement cost; aquifers; Mexico; water scarcity; economic valuation; water policy; urban leak control; groundwater; forest conservation replacement cost; aquifers; Mexico; water scarcity; economic valuation; water policy; urban leak control; groundwater; forest conservation
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López-Morales, C.A.; Mesa-Jurado, M.A. Valuation of Hidden Water Ecosystem Services: The Replacement Cost of the Aquifer System in Central Mexico. Water 2017, 9, 571.

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