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Modeling Sustainability of Water, Environment, Livelihood, and Culture in Traditional Irrigation Communities and Their Linked Watersheds

Author

Listed:
  • Alexander Fernald

    () (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3-I, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA)

  • Vincent Tidwell

    () (Sandia National Laboratories, P.O. Box 5800, Albuquerque, NM 87185, USA)

  • José Rivera

    () (Center for Regional Studies, MSC 05 3020, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA)

  • Sylvia Rodríguez

    () (Department of Anthropology (Emerita), MSC01-1040, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA)

  • Steven Guldan

    () (Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde, New Mexico State University, 371 County Road 40, P.O. Box 159, Alcalde, NM 87511, USA)

  • Caitriana Steele

    () (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3-I, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA)

  • Carlos Ochoa

    () (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3-I, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA)

  • Brian Hurd

    () (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3-I, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA)

  • Marquita Ortiz

    () (New Mexico Acequia Association, 805 Early Street, Building B, Suite 203, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA)

  • Kenneth Boykin

    () (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3-I, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA)

  • Andres Cibils

    () (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3-I, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA)

Abstract

Water scarcity, land use conversion and cultural and ecosystem changes threaten the way of life for traditional irrigation communities of the semi-arid southwestern United States. Traditions are strong, yet potential upheaval is great in these communities that rely on acequia irrigation systems. Acequias are ancient ditch systems brought from the Iberian Peninsula to the New World over 400 years ago; they are simultaneously gravity flow water delivery systems and shared water governance institutions. Acequias have survived periods of drought and external shocks from changing economics, demographics, and resource uses. Now, climate change and urbanization threaten water availability, ecosystem functions, and the acequia communities themselves. Do past adaptive practices hold the key to future sustainability, or are new strategies required? To explore this issue we translated disciplinary understanding into a uniform format of causal loop diagrams to conceptualize the subsystems of the entire acequia-based human-natural system. Four subsystems are identified in this study: hydrology, ecosystem, land use/economics, and sociocultural. Important linkages between subsystems were revealed as well as variables indicating community cohesion (e.g., total irrigated land, intensity of upland grazing, mutualism). Ongoing work will test the conceptualizations with field data and modeling exercises to capture tipping points for non-sustainability and thresholds for sustainable water use and community longevity.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Fernald & Vincent Tidwell & José Rivera & Sylvia Rodríguez & Steven Guldan & Caitriana Steele & Carlos Ochoa & Brian Hurd & Marquita Ortiz & Kenneth Boykin & Andres Cibils, 2012. "Modeling Sustainability of Water, Environment, Livelihood, and Culture in Traditional Irrigation Communities and Their Linked Watersheds," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(11), pages 1-25, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:11:p:2998-3022:d:21335
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cox, Michael & Ross, Justin M., 2011. "Robustness and vulnerability of community irrigation systems: The case of the Taos valley acequias," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 254-266, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Haijing Zhang & Qingyun Du & Min Yao & Fu Ren, 2016. "Evaluation and Clustering Maps of Groundwater Wells in the Red Beds of Chengdu, Sichuan, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, January.
    2. Benjamin L. Turner & Vincent Tidwell & Alexander Fernald & José A. Rivera & Sylvia Rodriguez & Steven Guldan & Carlos Ochoa & Brian Hurd & Kenneth Boykin & Andres Cibils, 2016. "Modeling Acequia Irrigation Systems Using System Dynamics: Model Development, Evaluation, and Sensitivity Analyses to Investigate Effects of Socio-Economic and Biophysical Feedbacks," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-30, October.
    3. Liang Liu & Cong Feng & Hongwei Zhang & Xuehua Zhang, 2015. "Game Analysis and Simulation of the River Basin Sustainable Development Strategy Integrating Water Emission Trading," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(5), pages 1-21, April.
    4. Ralph Lasage & Sanne Muis & Carolina S. E. Sardella & Michiel A. van Drunen & Peter H. Verburg & Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts, 2015. "A Stepwise, Participatory Approach to Design and Implement Community Based Adaptation to Drought in the Peruvian Andes," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(2), pages 1-32, February.
    5. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:10:p:1658-:d:112663 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:1:p:87:d:62364 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:ecolec:v:147:y:2018:i:c:p:84-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Ana María González & Harrison Sandoval & Pilar Acosta & Felipe Henao, 2016. "On the Acceptance and Sustainability of Renewable Energy Projects—A Systems Thinking Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(11), pages 1-21, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    interdisciplinary model; sustainability; natural and human system dynamics; hydrology; ecology; economics; culture;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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