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Local Actions On Water Management, For Sustainable Development, In Two Study Cases

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Nathalie Cabirol, Columba Marti­nez-Espinosa, Marcelo Rojas-Oropeza
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 10: Management of water resources,

Currently, registration of water distribution indicates an environmental crisis around the world, related to the heterogeneity of water availability in quality and volume. This problem has been accelerating the last time, due to population growth, exploitation of natural resources, increasing pollution and environmental degradation that have broken the boundaries and hinder the ability of ecosystems to regenerate.

As a result, there are 80 countries with 40% of the total world population, which has serious problems with water supply and sanitation, all affect negatively on economic growth (FAO, 2013; WHO, 2008).

As a local action to effect change on a larger scale, two rural communities as case studies were considered Abu Minqar (Egypt) and El Alberto (Mexico) with the objective of evaluating the status of water resources (supply and sanitation) to know its use, and establish indicators of sustainability for the benefit in the development both locations.

This study is to compare two different communities socially and environmentally, therefore provide information to promote good governance, rational and economical use of water resources is needed to promote local sustainable development and afterwards will serve as an example for other rural communities with limited or mismanagement of water resources.


This study was carried out by theoretical and experimental actions, firstly the hydrological cycle was established; the ecosystem was described and anthropological uses were identified. Social factor was analyzed by interviews about water culture

In both communities, in situ parameters and water samples were taken for characterization, and compare the quality parameters allowable for each water use as well and after use, to define treatment needed for efficient water reuse under the terms of sustainability for each study case.

Finally it was compared and determined if the current water supply and sanitation system can promote sustainable development in the short, medium and long term.

Results and Discussion

* In both communities through government policies, artificial water supply occurred: in the case of El Alberto, by channeling waste water from Mexico City to the neighboring state (Hidalgo); and in the case of Abu Minqar with well construction within the framework of development Desert policies, both political decisions are focused unidirectionally to the lack of water.

* Ecosystems are semi-arid (Mexico) and arid (Egypt); both have a pulse-reserve mechanism. Therefore, resource management depends on the dynamics of ecosystems. It implies that the temporal and spatial heterogeneity was to be considered. Water is the controlling factor, the system is in an inactive balance, until rain or water intake unchain a biomass growth and reservoir structures. Water determines the influx of energy into the system and across all trophic levels promotes a synchronized connection between the water flow and life (Noy-Meir, 1973).

* In both cases, we determined that the social awareness in front water scarcity is contrary. People of El Alberto, Mexico are aware of the need of proper water management; moreover they said that the current methods are not correct, and are willing to change it, but they are knowledge less about the way to do it. On the other hand, residents of Abu Minqar have a nomadic identity, they exploit the water without consider that it is a limiting resource, when the resource is over they will seek another place to live, they are not worry about taking care of the resource; this behavior could be justified on the fact that the people living there are relocated from other places.

* The physicochemical and biological analysis exposed that the water supply is deficient in both communities. The quality of water is not guarantee during extraction. Also, there is a great loss by evaporation during transport the resource to different uses.

-- For human consumption, there is no acceptable quality for drinking water according to the local neither the international Water Quality Standards. Therefore, the identification of the source of contamination is necessary to propose adequate infrastructure, to prevent further contamination and to guarantee water quality.

-- For crop irrigation, water has suitable quality. However, there is a significant loss for the high rate of evaporation. It is necessary to optimize the transport system and irrigation systems to reduce direct exposure to solar radiation and to improve the use of the limited resource.

* Sanitation of water in both communities has deficiencies, due to the lack of an effective treatment method. However, an action plan to solve the situation involves directly the health and environmental factors that need prompt attention.

Social, economic and environmental indicators obtained from this study of water quality and quantity confirm that in El Alberto community water awareness focuses only on domestic use, but not in the agricultural use. That means that there is a heterogeneous distribution with inadequate management, even if the people is aware the problem, the greater volume of water is used for agricultural use, rather than the household. So it is necessary diffuses the awareness and appropriate management of water in all sectors.

In Abu Minquar, actions are focused on the extraction of water, but there is not a management for reduce exposure to solar radiation (the major cause of loss), nor in the use of wastewater. Their nomadic heritage, lead them to deplete the aquifer faster but is contrasted with the local politics of reclaiming desert areas for establish economic and social development.


In both cases, local policies present the same problem; there is not integration between the water management and cultural local factors (knowledge and experience). The particularities of each site are ignored, but they are the key for a global sustainability.

To achieve this change, it is imperative the interaction between scientific understanding of the system and the social participation, which is what we are looking for.

The sustainable development should have based on results coming from the scientific experimentation to creating strategies that are easily absorbed, implemented and evaluated by residents and decision makers. 1. FAO. The FAO Water Development and Management Unit 2013.

2. Noy-Meir, I. (1973). Desert ecosystems: environment and producers. Annual review of ecology and systematics, 25-51.

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