|Published in||Applied Geography , 30(3):343-354|
Díaz-Caravantes, R. and Scott, C.A.
Leading scholars and global institutions emphasize the urgency of balancing human livelihood needs with the demands of the environment, particularly for water. In Mexico, the interface between water and environmental conservation is manifested in initiatives to enlarge &ldquonatural protected areas&rdquo in order to protect both hydrological basins as water sources as well as ecosystems and the services they provide. However, the spatial overlaps, hydrological&ndashbiological interactions, and multiple stakeholder institutional interfaces between protected areas and basins remain poorly understood, particularly the ways in which conservation areas are being reconfigured by human water use. Employing spatial analysis, volumes of water concessions, and institutional mapping methods, this paper examines the policy and resource dimensions of groundwater use in the Río Cuchujaqui watershed and its implications for ecosystem services in the Sierra de Álamos protected area in northwestern Mexico. Competing water and environmental institutional mandates have prevented the formulation of a water management program for conservation purposes. Geographical expansion of the Sierra de Álamos will confront pre-existing Río Cuchujaqui groundwater uses outside the area currently protected. This impasse can only be resolved by capping groundwater at levels that permit current ecosystem function.