U.S. Water Agencies Eye Water Alternatives Across Mexico Border

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Four water districts in the western U.S. are working with Mexican officials to develop two huge desalination plants in Playas de Rosarito, a coastal city located in the Mexican state of Baja California, as communities on both sides of the border look to wean themselves from the drought-prone Colorado River.

One group — including the water agencies that provide water to much of Southern California, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Tijuana — is now studying the costs of a plant that would provide about 50 million gallons daily, while a second project would provide nearly 100 million gallons daily to the U.S. via a new pipeline, with operation set to begin in 2014.

While some environmental groups have expressed concerns about the proposals, including charges that American water agencies are targeting Mexico to avoid stricter U.S. review, proponents say the plants could provide a freshwater alternative to the Colorado River, which for decades has been the lifeblood for seven U.S. states and northwest Mexico but has been running increasingly low in recent years as a result of rising demand.

photo: Wolfgang Staudt

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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