Volume 44 Number 9
INTERNATIONAL: H2O Americas -- Developing a Vision for the Hemisphere
Held in late April in La Jolla, Calif., H2O Americas -- the 2002 Annual Institute of the Americas water conference -- brought together key decision-makers from the United States and Latin American business communities and governments to discuss new water, sanitation and irrigation projects as well as regulatory and legislative developments in the region.
Specifically, presentations focused on:
Highlights from the conference
Integrated water resource management in California -- The discussion highlighted the need for trans-boundary coordination, particularly in an era of growing water scarcity. Leading experts provided an overview of California water allocation issues, differences between California and Latin American water markets, challenges of coordinating trans-border water resources, allocation issues between urban and agricultural users, and related environmental issues. They focused on seven key issues relating to future water demand -- water conservation; water efficiency improvements in cities and agriculture; expansion of groundwater resources; expansion of surface water resources; reuse of residential, industrial and agricultural wastewater or runoff; improvements in storage and importation of surface water, and seawater desalination opportunities.
An assessment of current water projects in Mexico and across the U.S./Mexico border -- Speakers highlighted that water is considered a national resource under the domain of the Mexican federal government, and discussed current efforts at decentralizing authority over water allocation and supply to states and municipalities. They addressed the fact that the cost of potable water production and sewage collection exceeds actual water tariffs imposed on consumers, inefficiencies in billing and revenue collection, and deficits in clean surface water in large urban areas such as Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Public/private partnerships and concessions serve as options for the market despite considerable market risks. A number of specific projects were presented that demonstrate promising new developments in the states of Vera Cruz, Jalisco, Baja California, Nuevo Leon and Aguascalientes.
A discussion of specific projects in South America, with specific reference to Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru -- Common challenges cited by speakers included the difficulty in financing urban water and sewage facilities, decentralization of policy-making, and an evolving regulatory and legislative environment. Speakers presented several different water management strategies and challenges, including:
The conference highlighted the continuing necessity to focus on improving water management, regulation and infrastructure to entice future investment and development, including issues such as:
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