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DISCOVER A WATERSHED: RIO GRANDE/RIO BRAVO A BINATIONAL COLLABORATIVE APPROACH TO WATER EDUCATION

IWRA World Water Congress 2003 Madrid Spain
IWRA WWC2003 - default topic
Author(s): Dennis L NELSON
Rita VAZQUEZ DEL MERCADO

Dennis L NELSON 1 , Rita VAZQUEZ DEL MERCADO 2

1 the watercourse and international project wet, executive director, dennisn@montana.edu 201 culbertson hall, montana state university, bozeman, montana 59717-0575, USA 

2 mexican institute of water technology, project wet-mexico: ¡encaucemos el agua! director, rvazquez@tlaloc.imta.mx. paseo cuauhnahuac 8532, jiutepec, morelos, 62170 Mexico


Article:

Abstract

By nature, every watershed has elements that make it similar to all other watersheds, yet each is unique in its geographical scope, history, cultures, and tensions. The differences among water users are heightened when combined with the differences in values and needs among countries sharing a river. A local decision intended to solve an ecological dilemma may have deep-rooted social, political, cultural, and environmental ramifications that resonate internationally. Thus, water education principles are a useful starting point, but distinct, relevant education specific to each watershed is necessary. We believe that education must include all stakeholders within the watershed.

The Rio Grande/Rio Bravo constitutes 2,000 km of the 3,000 km border between the United States and Mexico. However, these countries are not separated by this once courageous river, they are linked by the life it has brought to this highly populated watershed and its ecosystems, towns, agricultural areas, and industries. This collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico to educate citizens of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Watershed may serve as a reference for all water users across shared rivers, and hopefully, as a starting point for new watershed education initiatives.

The Discover a Watershed Series is a broad watershed education program of The Watercourse and International Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) designed for anyone interested in learning about rivers and watersheds. Each project in the series contains three core components researched and developed specifically for an individual watershed: publications, education events, and support services.

The series published Discover a Watershed: The Everglades Reference and Activity Guide for Educators in 1996, and Discover a Watershed: Rio Grande/Rio Bravo (English and Spanish editions) in 2001. Works in progress include The Columbia, The Colorado, The Missouri, and an overview book, The Watershed Manager Educators Guide. Other watersheds are now under consideration.

Herein we will discuss the development experience of Discover a Watershed: The Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, which was developed by establishing transboundary partnerships with water resources leaders and educators from Mexico and the United States, in a commendable binational collaborative effort sponsored by a private U.S. citizen. This presentation will include a review of lessons learned during the development of this project as well as recommendations for future transboundary education initiatives.

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