Special Issue "Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 July 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Sharon B. Megdal
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The University of Arizona, 350 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, Arizona USA 85719
Interests: comparative evaluation of water management, policy, and governance in water-scarce regions; groundwater recharge; and transboundary aquifer assessment
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Anne-Marie Matherne
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
U.S. Geological Survey, New Mexico Water Sciences Center, 6700 Edith NE, Suite B Albuquerque New Mexico USA 87113
Interests: erosion and sediment transport; groundwater-surface water interactions; and transboundary aquifer assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The need to feed and support the world’s growing population has placed a spotlight on the world’s underground freshwater resources. As groundwater use increases globally, there is growing recognition that critical to sound groundwater management is a detailed understanding of aquifer conditions. Of special consideration is aquifer assessment in a transboundary setting, where cooperation of multiple jurisdictions, sometimes with different languages and cultures, is required. The paucity of formal agreements governing the sharing of groundwater across borders suggests there is an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the science as well as management of transboundary aquifers through sharing approaches to and results of transboundary aquifer assessment efforts. This Special Issue of Water invites papers reporting on transboundary aquifer assessment research. The guest editors invite papers that describe aquifers, groundwater availability and quality, and water use. Integrated studies, including modeling, that incorporate various aspects of the hydrologic system and/or socioeconomic conditions are welcomed. In addition, the Guest Editors invite papers analyzing relevant institutional issues and mechanisms for cooperation, which could serve as the foundation for collaboration extending to management of transboundary groundwater. We encourage authors to share both challenges and successes associated with working across jurisdictional borders, whether they be borders between sovereign nations, as well as between different states or jurisdictions within a country. Papers that address cooperative mechanisms for transboundary aquifer assessment are also invited.

Prof. Sharon B. Megdal
Dr. Anne-Marie Matherne
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • transboundary aquifer assessment
  • aquifer conditions
  • groundwater
  • hydrologic modeling
  • cooperative mechanisms

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Transboundary Aquifers between Baja California, Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico, and California, Arizona and New Mexico, United States: Identification and Categorization
Water 2021, 13(20), 2878; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202878 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 819
Abstract
In 2016, research suggested there might be up to 36 transboundary aquifers located along the border between Mexico and the U.S. The main contribution of this study was to put together the available segments already existent in the literature without considering the validity [...] Read more.
In 2016, research suggested there might be up to 36 transboundary aquifers located along the border between Mexico and the U.S. The main contribution of this study was to put together the available segments already existent in the literature without considering the validity of the criteria used to define the boundaries of those segments. In 2018, updated research reported 33 hydrogeological units (HGUs) crossing the boundaries between Mexico and Texas. This later analysis included the homogenization of geological nomenclatures, standardization of geological and hydrogeological criteria, using a specific methodology to correlate, identify, and delineate each HGU. The purpose of this paper is to use this latter methodology and expand the same analysis to include the transboundary aquifers between Baja California/California, Sonora/Arizona, and Chihuahua/New Mexico. Results of this study indicate that a total of 39 HGUs have been identified in this region which accounts for an approximate shareable land of 135,000 km2 where both countries share half of the area. From the total shareable area, around 40% reports good to moderate aquifer potential and water quality, of which 65% is in the U.S. and 35% on the Mexico side. Border-wide, the total number of HGUs in the border region between Mexico and the United States is 72, covering an approximate area of 315,000 km2 (180,000 km2 on the U.S. side and 135,000 km2 on the Mexico side). The total area that reports good to moderate aquifer potential as well as good to regular water quality ranges between 50 and 55% (of which approximately 60% is in the U.S. and the rest in Mexico). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment)
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Article
Modeling as a Tool for Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Prioritization
Water 2021, 13(19), 2685; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13192685 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 449
Abstract
Transboundary aquifers are critical global water supplies facing unprecedented threats of depletion; existing efforts to assess these resources do not adequately account for the complexities of transboundary human and physical system interactions to the determinant of the impact of assessment outcomes. This study [...] Read more.
Transboundary aquifers are critical global water supplies facing unprecedented threats of depletion; existing efforts to assess these resources do not adequately account for the complexities of transboundary human and physical system interactions to the determinant of the impact of assessment outcomes. This study developed a system dynamics model with natural, human, and technical system components for a section of the transboundary Mesilla Basin/Conejos-Médanos aquifer to evaluate the following dynamic hypothesis: how and when information from a transboundary aquifer assessment is reported and perceived, in scenarios where two countries follow identical and different timeframes, dynamically impacts the behaviors of the shared aquifer. Simulation experiments were conducted to quantitatively assess the dynamics of transboundary aquifer assessment information reporting and perception delays. These critical feedbacks have not previously been incorporated practically in simulation and analysis. Simulation results showed that the timing and content of reporting can change the dynamic behavior of natural, human, and technical components of transboundary aquifer systems. This study demonstrates the potential for modeling to assist with prioritization efforts during the data collection and exchange phases to ensure that transboundary aquifer assessments achieve their intended outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment)
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Article
Science and Binational Cooperation: Bidirectionality in the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program in the Arizona-Sonora Border Region
Water 2021, 13(17), 2364; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172364 - 28 Aug 2021
Viewed by 601
Abstract
Sharing scientific data and information is often cited within academic literature as an initial step of water cooperation, but the transfer of research findings into policy and practice is often slow and inconsistent. Certain attributes—including salience, credibility, and legitimacy of scientific information; iterative [...] Read more.
Sharing scientific data and information is often cited within academic literature as an initial step of water cooperation, but the transfer of research findings into policy and practice is often slow and inconsistent. Certain attributes—including salience, credibility, and legitimacy of scientific information; iterative information production; and sociocultural factors—may influence how easily scientific information can be used in management and policymaking. However, transnationality usually complicates these sorts of interactions. Accordingly, we argue that the production of scientific information and transboundary water cooperation build upon each other bidirectionally, each informing and enhancing the other. We employ a case-study analysis of the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program (TAAP), a binational collaborative effort for scientific assessment of aquifers shared between Mexico and the United States. Here, information sharing was possible only by first completing a formal, jointly agreed-upon cooperative framework in 2009. This framework resulted in a collaborative science production process, suggesting that the relationship between sharing data and information and transboundary groundwater governance is iterative and self-reinforcing. In keeping with the publication of the TAAP’s first binational scientific report in 2016, we demonstrate the bidirectional relationship between science production and water governance in the TAAP and explore remaining challenges after scientific assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment)
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Article
Investigating Management of Transboundary Waters through Cooperation: A Serious Games Case Study of the Hueco Bolson Aquifer in Chihuahua, Mexico and Texas, United States
Water 2021, 13(15), 2001; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13152001 - 21 Jul 2021
Viewed by 610
Abstract
Management of transboundary aquifers is a vexing water resources challenge, especially when the aquifers are overexploited. The Hueco Bolson aquifer, which is bisected by the United States–Mexico border and where pumping far exceeds recharge, is an apt example. We conducted a binational, multisector, [...] Read more.
Management of transboundary aquifers is a vexing water resources challenge, especially when the aquifers are overexploited. The Hueco Bolson aquifer, which is bisected by the United States–Mexico border and where pumping far exceeds recharge, is an apt example. We conducted a binational, multisector, serious games workshop to explore collaborative solutions for extending the life of the shared aquifer. The value of the serious game workshop was building knowledge, interest, understanding, and constituency among critical stakeholders from both sides of the border. Participants also learned about negotiations and group decision-making while building mutual respect and trust. We did not achieve consensus, but a number of major outcomes emerged, including: (1) participants agreed that action is called for and that completely depleting the freshwater in the shared aquifer could be catastrophic to the region; (2) addressing depletion and prolonging the life of the aquifer will require binational action, because actions on only one side of the border is not enough; and (3) informal binational cooperation will be required to be successful. Agreeing that binational action is called for, the serious games intervention was an important next step toward improving management of this crucial binational resource. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment)
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Article
Twenty-First Century Science Calls for Twenty-First Century Groundwater Use Law: A Retrospective Analysis of Transboundary Governance Weaknesses and Future Implications in the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin
Water 2021, 13(13), 1768; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13131768 - 26 Jun 2021
Viewed by 733
Abstract
How has groundwater use been historically governed by the binational to municipal government levels across the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin (GLB)? To what extent have they contemplated the physical–environmental requirements to maintain aquifer storage in devising policies and making decisions governing groundwater use? [...] Read more.
How has groundwater use been historically governed by the binational to municipal government levels across the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin (GLB)? To what extent have they contemplated the physical–environmental requirements to maintain aquifer storage in devising policies and making decisions governing groundwater use? Although it is amongst the largest freshwater stores in the globe, cases of groundwater shortages are increasingly being reported across GLB communities, raising questions on the fitness of governance approaches to maintain groundwater storage (GWS) with growing climate and human pressures. Applying retrospective analytical methods to assess the century-old collaboration of the United States and Canada to maintain GLB water quantities, we characterize long-term trends and undertake systematic diagnosis to gain insight into causal mechanisms that have persisted over the years resulting in current GWS governance gaps. We reveal the surprising prominence of policies originally intended to safeguard surface water quantities being used to govern groundwater use and thereby maintain GWS. We also connect these, based on sustainable aquifer yield theory, to growing groundwater insecurity in the Basin’s drought-prone and/or groundwater-dependent communities. Based on deep understanding of long-standing policy pathologies, findings inform transboundary GWS governance reform proposals that can be highly useful to multiple levels of government policymakers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment)
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Article
Gradient Self-Potential Logging in the Rio Grande to Identify Gaining and Losing Reaches across the Mesilla Valley
Water 2021, 13(10), 1331; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101331 - 11 May 2021
Viewed by 723
Abstract
The Rio Grande/Río Bravo del Norte (hereinafter referred to as the “Rio Grande”) is the primary source of recharge to the Mesilla Basin/Conejos-Médanos aquifer system in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico and Texas. The Mesilla Basin aquifer system is the U.S. part [...] Read more.
The Rio Grande/Río Bravo del Norte (hereinafter referred to as the “Rio Grande”) is the primary source of recharge to the Mesilla Basin/Conejos-Médanos aquifer system in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico and Texas. The Mesilla Basin aquifer system is the U.S. part of the Mesilla Basin/Conejos-Médanos aquifer system and is the primary source of water supply to several communities along the United States–Mexico border in and near the Mesilla Valley. Identifying the gaining and losing reaches of the Rio Grande in the Mesilla Valley is therefore critical for managing the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater resources available to stakeholders in the Mesilla Valley and downstream. A gradient self-potential (SP) logging survey was completed in the Rio Grande across the Mesilla Valley between 26 June and 2 July 2020, to identify reaches where surface-water gains and losses were occurring by interpreting an estimate of the streaming-potential component of the electrostatic field in the river, measured during bankfull flow. The survey, completed as part of the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program, began at Leasburg Dam in New Mexico near the northern terminus of the Mesilla Valley and ended ~72 kilometers (km) downstream at Canutillo, Texas. Electric potential data indicated a net losing condition for ~32 km between the Leasburg Dam and Mesilla Diversion Dam in New Mexico, with one ~200-m long reach showing an isolated saline-groundwater gaining condition. Downstream from the Mesilla Diversion Dam, electric-potential data indicated a neutral-to-mild gaining condition for 12 km that transitioned to a mild-to-moderate gaining condition between 12 and ~22 km downstream from the dam, before transitioning back to a losing condition along the remaining 18 km of the survey reach. The interpreted gaining and losing reaches are substantiated by potentiometric surface mapping completed in hydrostratigraphic units of the Mesilla Basin aquifer system between 2010 and 2011, and corroborated by surface-water temperature and conductivity logging and relative median streamflow gains and losses, quantified from streamflow measurements made annually at 16 seepage-measurement stations along the survey reach between 1988 and 1998 and between 2004 and 2013. The gaining and losing reaches of the Rio Grande in the Mesilla Valley, interpreted from electric potential data, compare well with relative median streamflow gains and losses along the 72-km long survey reach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment)
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Article
The U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program as a Model for Transborder Groundwater Collaboration
Water 2021, 13(4), 530; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040530 - 18 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1246
Abstract
The assessment of transboundary aquifers is essential for the development of groundwater management strategies and the sustainable use of groundwater resources. The Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program (TAAP) is a joint effort by the United States and Mexico to evaluate shared aquifers. This study [...] Read more.
The assessment of transboundary aquifers is essential for the development of groundwater management strategies and the sustainable use of groundwater resources. The Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program (TAAP) is a joint effort by the United States and Mexico to evaluate shared aquifers. This study examines the TAAP Cooperative Framework as a guide for further transboundary groundwater collaboration. We compared lessons learned from six transboundary aquifers that currently have mechanisms for groundwater collaboration to identify common elements of collaboration. Though the TAAP Cooperative Framework governs an assessment-only program, the elements of collaboration included are consistent with the principles of other institutional agreements around the world. Importantly, all the analyzed agreements included a knowledge-improvement phase, which is the main objective of the TAAP Cooperative Framework. The present study finds evidence of successful outcomes within the TAAP Cooperative Framework consistent with available transboundary groundwater management agreements, demonstrating that this approach is suited to serve as a model for those wishing to engage in transborder aquifer assessments. Furthermore, the TAAP elements of collaboration can help to establish the meaningful and robust binational cooperation necessary for the development of U.S.-Mexico groundwater management agreements at the aquifer level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment)
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Review

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Review
A Review of Climate Change Impacts on the USA-Mexico Transboundary Santa Cruz River Basin
Water 2021, 13(10), 1390; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101390 - 16 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1069
Abstract
In the parched Upper Santa Cruz River Basin (USCRB), a binational USA–Mexico basin, the water resources depend on rainfall-triggered infrequent flow events in ephemeral channels to recharge its storage-limited aquifers. In-situ data from the basin highlight a year-round warming trend since the 1980s [...] Read more.
In the parched Upper Santa Cruz River Basin (USCRB), a binational USA–Mexico basin, the water resources depend on rainfall-triggered infrequent flow events in ephemeral channels to recharge its storage-limited aquifers. In-situ data from the basin highlight a year-round warming trend since the 1980s and a concerning decline in average precipitation (streamflow) from 1955–2000 to 2001–2020 by 50% (87.6%) and 17% (63%) during the winter and summer, respectively. Binational sustainable management of the basins water resources requires a careful consideration of prospective climatic changes. In this article we review relevant studies with climate projections for the mid-21st century of four weather systems that affect the region’s precipitation. First, the North American Monsoon (NAM) weather system accounts for ~60% of the region’s annual rainfall. The total NAM precipitation is projected to decline while heavy rainfall events are expected to intensify. Second, the frequency of the pacific cold fronts, the region’s prevalent source of winter precipitation, is projected to decline. Third, the frequency and intensity of future atmospheric rivers, a weather system that brings winter rainfall to the region, are projected to increase. Fourth, the frequency and intensity of large eastern pacific tropical cyclones (TC) are expected to increase. On rare occasions, remnants of TC make their way to the USCRB to cause storms with considerable impact on the region’s water resources. In contrast to the high confidence projections for the warming trend to persist throughout the mid-21st century, the precipitation projections of these four weather systems affecting the region encompass large uncertainties and studies have often reported contradicting trends. An added source of uncertainty is that the USCRB is located at the periphery of the four rain-bearing weather systems and small mesoscale changes in these weather systems may have accentuated impacts on their edges. Despite the high uncertainty in the projections of future precipitation, the early 21st century drying trend and the projected mid-21st century decline in precipitation events serve as a pressing call for planning and actions to attain sustainable water resources management that reliably satisfies future demands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Transboundary Aquifer Assessment)
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