Why water reserves
Fifteen years ago a group of experts from WWF Mexico sought to understand the health of their nation’s rivers. Why are the streams drying up, they asked? Why are they polluted? Why have we piped them? Is there really a shortage of water? And why are we losing aquatic biodiversity?
Their answer was simple but stunning nonetheless. In Mexico there was enough water but it was not well managed. Human activities consumed available water and not a drop was left to nature.
They understood that if things could change–if nature had enough water–it would generate more water, providing .life to rivers, forests, animals and plants and even cities, now and in the future.
This idea was the foundation for the establishment of “water reserves”, a part of Mexican national law since 1989 but often more as an aspiration than application.
WWF began working with communities, scientists, and the National Water Commission to define how much water should remain in the rivers and nature, beginning a process to decree water reserves in the country.
The first reserve was established in 2014 on the San Pedro Mezquital river. Today, Mexican authorities announced the decrees of nearly 300 basins with water reserves..
These basins will benefit some 45 million Mexicans, ensuring the quality of their water supply, in addition to other benefits offered by healthy rivers, such as the transportation of nutrients for fishing activity, dissolution of pollutants and resilience against the effects of extreme natural events like storms or droughts.
Another advantage of water reserves? They can be replicated in other countries of the world. Latin America and Africa have already looked to Mexico’s water reserves as a model to protect and sustain rivers, and the wildlife and people that depend on them.