Transboundary aquifers are an essential, and in many cases, singular source of water for United States – Mexico border communities, particularly in arid regions. Declining water levels, deteriorating water quality, and increasing use of groundwater resources by municipal, industrial, and agricultural water users on both sides of the international border have raised concerns about the long-term availability of this supply. Water quantity and quality are determining and limiting factors that ultimately control agriculture, future economic development, population growth, human health, and ecological conditions along the border. Knowledge about the extent, depletion rates, and quality of transboundary aquifers, however, is limited and, in some areas, completely absent.
The U.S. – Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act (Public Law 109-448), referred to in this report as “the Act,” was signed into law by the President of the United States on December 22, 2006, to conduct binational scientific research to systematically assess priority transboundary aquifers and to address water information needs of border communities. The Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), to collaborate with the States of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas through their Water Resources Research Institutes (WRRIs) and with the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), stakeholders, and Mexican counterparts to provide new information and a scientific foundation for State and local officials to address pressing water-resource challenges along the U.S. – Mexico border.