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The Binational (US/Mexico) Fresh Water Crisis

  • March 22, 2022
  • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM


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The San Diego World Affairs Council's
Special Presentation on World Water Day

The Binational (US/Mexico) Fresh Water Crisis 

Tuesday, 22 March, 2022, from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (PST)


Our region of southwest US and northwest Mexico is facing a crisis re: the availability of fresh water. Forty million people -- plus farms and businesses -- depend to a large extent on the Colorado River, and its flows are decreasing as its reservoirs are being depleted. In 2021, the US government issued the first official water shortage declaration on the river, resulting in supply reductions to American states and Mexico. And climate change is exacerbating these problems. At the same time, groundwater reserves are declining and there are no alternative sources of fresh water in the quantities required. We must act now. Join us as experts talk about conservation efforts, creating new fresh water, and other cross-border water issues.

~Paul Marttila

World Water Day, observed across the globe each year on March 22, marks advocacy for the sustainable management of freshwater resources essential to our very survival. On March 22nd, at 6:30pm to 8:00pm , please join us for a virtual event discussing: The Binational (US/Mexico) Fresh Water Crisis.   

Our speakers include US and Mexican experts and practitioners dedicated to addressing the freshwater shortage threatening our integrated, binational region.

  • Larry E. Fanning.   Principal Owner & Chief Scientist - New Water Group LL
  • Ted Kowalski, Esq.   Senior Program Officer, Colorado River Initiative - Walton Family Foundation 
  • Oscar Cortes Reyna. VP, International Relations - Mexican Federation of Civil Engineers

Join our panel discussion to learn about: the extent of the crisis and its adverse consequences; conservation measures needed to put us on a more sustainable path; and programs that can increase the production of fresh water to augment existing supplies in our region.   An all-out, comprehensive plan is needed to save the Colorado River -- a freshwater source upon which agriculture, industry and 40 million individuals in both the US and Mexico depend. 


There is considerable interdependence between the US and Mexico's water supplies, including a US-Mexico treaty that allocates some of the Colorado River for Mexico's use.  In August of 2021, US federal officials made the first-ever water shortage declaration for the Colorado River; as a result, supplies have been reduced to several southwestern states and Mexico.  

In the US, 10 Western governors appealed for federal drought disaster aid and the US Drought Monitor proclaimed that drought conditions exist in 99% of the Western U.S. Northwestern Mexico is also suffering from drought conditions. The Colorado River water allocated to Mexico is of relatively poor quality and the river routinely fails to reach its historical mouth in the Northern Gulf of California.

According to The Economist, the reductions in Colorado River water supplies are likely a prelude to more severe rationing — a situation caused both by climate change, which is diminishing mountain snowpacks upstream and evaporation, as well as historically inappropriate policy choices that encouraged large-scale development in areas having water supplies inadequate to serve this level of activity.


Larry E. Fanning

Principal Owner & Chief ScientistNew Water Group LLC

Mr. Fanning is a geotechnical professional, adept in structural geology, hydrogeology, foundation design, seismicity, geologic hazards and forensic evaluation, and earthwork and construction procedures. Over the past 30 years, he has worked with a wide variety of client types and government agencies. Mr. Fanning has also served as a subject matter expert for the California Board of Registration for Geologists and Geophysicists. He has been an expert in hundreds of legal proceedings and served by appointment of the Governor of California to the Department of Conservation’s State Mining and Geology Board.

He has also performed a wide variety of environmental studies, including environmental site assessments on many property types and conditions, contaminant migration modeling, site remediation, and water quality studies.  In addition to his position with the New Water Group LLC, Mr. Fanning is also the president and co-founder of G3 Soilworks Inc. He earned a BS in Geological and Earth Sciences from UC Santa Cruz.

Ted Kowalski, Esq.

Senior Program Officer, Colorado River Initiative, Walton Family Foundation 

Ted is a Senior Program Officer, leading the Walton Family Foundation’s Colorado River Initiative. In this role, Ted supports work that promotes sustainable management of the Colorado River in order to benefit rivers and communities. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ted was the Chief of the Interstate, Federal and Water Information Section, for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. In this role, Ted represented the State of Colorado in State, Federal, inter-State, and international negotiations.

Ted is recognized for his deep expertise in Colorado River water management issues.  He has testified before the U.S. Congress and before the Colorado General Assembly, and he has spoken at dozens of conferences. Ted started his career in the Colorado Attorney General’s office working on water law issues. Ted has a law degree from the University of Colorado and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

Oscar Cortes Reyna

VP, International Relations, Mexican Federation of Civil Engineers

Highly experienced Binational (+ 30 years) Consultant Project Manager Engineer with history of effective leadership for major Civil Engineering initiatives, design, construction and economic feasibility studies and stewardship of large Infrastructure capital projects and PPPs in Mexico and USA. Experience in Sustainable Infrastructure Development and PPP for Water Desalination, Road Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Mass Transit and Social P3 projects.

Oscar was Vice President for International Relations, Federación Mexicana de Colegios de Ingenieros Civiles (FEMCIC) & Chairman Bi-national Infrastructure and PPP’s. He was also the Tijuana Economic Development Council, Infrastructure Advisory Chair. He has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from San Diego State University (SDSU) and a Master’s degree in Economic Valuations from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC).


Mailing Address

San Diego World Affairs Council (SDWAC)

PO Box 34010

San Diego, CA 92163


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