Arizona/Mexico Desalination


  • September 27 Passage of Minute 323 to the 1944 Water Treaty
    Minute 323 Key Terms
    “In a letter to Arizona legislative leaders, the Director noted the establishment of a Binational Desalination Work Group, which will investigate desalination opportunities in the Sea of Cortez” (Source).
    “CAP and other U.S. water agencies also will help fund a study of seawater desalination options on the Gulf of California, known in Mexico as the Sea of Cortez, which eventually could enable Mexico to use the ocean and leave a larger portion of its river share for cooperating U.S. interests” (Source).






        • Bureau of Reclamation: Lower Colorado Region – Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study –
        • Minute 319: “Agreement between the United States and Mexico as part of the continuing implementation of the 1944 Mexican Water Treaty related to the use of the Colorado River. The Minute is a five-year cooperative agreement between Mexico and the United States (on behalf of the seven Colorado River Basin States – including Arizona) that provides a framework for: long-term planning and conservation activities; protection of water levels in Lake Mead to reduce the potential for water shortage; and potential development of additional sources of water from joint United States-Mexico water development projects.
          To implement Minute 319 work groups were created to address agreed upon elements of the Minute.  ADWR continues to participate in the Environmental Flows, Miguel Aleman habitat restoration site, Water Accounting and Operations, Basin Conditions and Hydrology and the Rosarito Desalination Plant working groups.  The Binational Rosarito Desalination Plant Working Group is of particular interest and is working toward developing high level legal, strategic and technical framework for binational desalination opportunities that would benefit both the US and Mexico.”


        • “Phoenix could ultimately become a partner either directly or indirectly (for example through CAP) in efforts to access desalinated sea water to support the regions growth and reduce shortage vulnerability.  Though the realization of such an effort will be several decades away, the scope and scale of the effort – like the CAP – will require substantive planning and capital expenditures.  A first stage might involve exchanges whereby coastal communities now receiving Colorado River would forego that supply for desalinated water made available by inland entities.  The inland entities would then divert Colorado River supplies that would have been delivered to the coast.  A second stage, involving development of physical transportation from a coastal area in the US or Mexico, would become necessary upon reaching the capacity limit of the CAP canal.”


        • “At a border governors’ conference on binational desalination, a representative of the North American Development Bank (NADB) stated that the Bank is interested in funding binational desalination projects.” Garcés J., 2010. North American Development Bank process. In:Border Governors’ Binational Desalination Conference. San Diego, CA, May 26, 2010 (unpublished conference presentation)



        • “municipality of Puerto Peñasco contracted with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to determine the feasibility of building a desalination plant U.S. Trade Development Agency (USTDA), 2008.” Request for Proposals. Available at:
        • “water managers from the Salt River Project and the Central Arizona Project (CAP), along with representatives of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Sonora’s State Water Commission authorized a feasibility study to determine the costs of producing and transporting desalinated water from Puerto Peñasco, Sonora to Imperial Dam near Yuma, Arizona.”
        • “The consulting firm Bouchard and Associates, Inc. conducted an initial feasibility study for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to site a desalination facility in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, to supply local demand. In parallel, the consulting firm HDR investigated the feasibility of cooperative, binational development of desalination at the same location. Partners in that study included CAP, the Salt River Project, the Arizona Department of Water Resources and their Mexican counterparts.”

        • “International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), the institution responsible for settling issues related to boundary and water treaties between U.S. and Mexico, has established a core working group dedicated to finding new water resources, of which desalination is a high priority for both countries”
        • Water Advisory Committee of Orange County mentions ocean desal
        • “Patterson said water users in the United States, particularly the Lower Basin states, are looking for partnerships with Mexico for desalination, agricultural conservation and agricultural fallowing to help conserve water. He said the dialog through the IBWC work groups is going well, but that ultimately, the process will require a more formal “government-to-government Negotiation.” Roger Patterson of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD)
        • Dave Roberts of SRP was on the AMC Water committee in 2008 (since 2007 when the committee was formed) when initiation of HDR study
          (SRP as sponsor of AMC for years before this)
          He’s also part of the water development commission that determined the need for the desal plant