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The purpose of this study is to present a factual picture of the multiple groundwater governance frameworks that cover the same transboundary aquifers on the Texas-Mexico border. The study can then serve as a foundation to support future research and as a reference for those sharing groundwater resources on the border to use in considering whether and how to coordinate management. Currently, Texas A&M School of Law, the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, and the Texas Water Resources Institute are collaboratively pursuing a larger interdisciplinary project, and the study presented in this report is part of that concerted endeavor.

First, the project establishes a study area, then identifies who are the stakeholders in the area, and finally summarizes the various rules each entity applies to groundwater. The study area selected is based on the aquifers identified in the 2016 study noted above (see Figure 1). Although there is currently no formal agreement between governments or users in Mexico and Texas for managing the reservoirs that cross underneath the international border, this survey represents a preliminary step in addressing the larger problems that the absence of a cooperative groundwater management framework presents. All of the institutional approaches employed in the various jurisdictions surveyed here model features from which developing management approaches could draw. Equally, noting gaps in the institutional approaches themselves and the ad hoc groundwater withdrawals occurring outside the reach of those institutions illustrates potential value in engaging local users in Texas’ and Mexico’s respective groundwater governance arrangements.

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Texas A&M University School of Law Program in Natural Resources Systems


Fort Worth, TX

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