American Society of Civil Engineers

Water Supply Analysis for Restoring the Colorado River Delta, Mexico

by Josué Medellín-Azuara, (corresponding author), (Postdoctoral Scholar, Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of California, Davis, CA 95616 E-mail:, Jay R. Lund, M.ASCE, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of California, Davis, CA 95616. E-mail:, and Richard E. Howitt, (Prof., Dept. of Agric. and Resource Economics, Univ. of California, Davis, CA. E-mail:

Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 133, No. 5, September/October 2007, pp. 462-471, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: This paper employs an economic-engineering optimization model to explore water supply options for environmental restoration of the Colorado River Delta, Mexico. Potential water sources include reductions in local agricultural and urban water use through water markets, wastewater reuse, and additional Colorado River flows from the United States. For these alternatives, the optimization model estimates operating and water scarcity costs, water scarcity volumes, and marginal economic costs of environmental flows and values of additional Colorado River flows from the United States over a range of required delta environmental flows. Economic values for agricultural and urban water uses were estimated by two ancillary models. The results provide insights into economically promising water supplies for restoration activities. Quantifying the trade-off between agricultural and urban economic valuation and environmental flows provides a framework for decision makers to quantify their valuation of environmental flows. The model also provides a framework for integrating additional knowledge of the system as information becomes available.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Water supply
Colorado River
Environmental issues