In Colorado River Delta of Mexico, the Colorado River runs dry before it reaches the sea, with negative consequences for the ecology of the region. Farmers in the Colorado River Delta also experience significant unreliability in their water supply for irrigation. In addition to the increasing pressures on water supplies, the region also represents an interesting case study of resilience due to shocks that have impacted regional water supplies. For example, the “Easter” earthquake of 2010 destroyed 600 kilometers of canals and drainage ditches. However, there was virtually no data available on how farmers were managing water after the earthquake at the farm scale. Thus, this research project aimed to collect data on the resilience of farms after such a shock while simultaneously exploring connections for collaboration among farmers and conservation groups in the Delta to promote resilience.
Two questions were highlighted:
- How are farmers responding to water supply variability? Does the extent of water supply variability influence their decision-making process?
- Which voluntary, incentive-based arrangements can increase water available for environmental needs while maintaining agricultural communities and livelihoods?
The multi-faceted research took place over two years, including numerous interviews with water managers and other stakeholders as well as 180 detailed farm household surveys conducted in 2012.
The analysis identified unexpected opportunities for innovative, collaborative solutions that combine synergistic goals for farm resilience and agricultural risk management with increased flows for the environment.