A decision support system to improve water resources management in the conchos basin

Jesús R. Gastélum, Juan B. Valdés, Steven Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The Conchos basin is the largest tributary to the lower part of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo basin. During recent years a severe drought has affected México's ability to deliver water from the Conchos basin as required by the 1944 Treaty. In addition, it has generated not only economic problems in the USA and México but also political frictions between these two countries. The Mexican Conchos river has historically contributed with the highest amount of water to USA as established on the water treaty. A Decision Support System (DSS) was developed for the Conchos basin in order to gain a better understanding of the water resources management process in the basin, and to identify the alternatives to improve the cited process. The DSS is a semi-distributed model, based on System Dynamics, and developed using Powersim software. The DSS has been used to evaluate 25 long and short tem water resources allocation alternatives for the two main basin's users: Irrigation Districts and Water Treaty. Some of the most important factors being tested on the 25 water management alternatives include National Commission of Water's yearly water allocation policy, reservoir operation rules, improvement on water distribution efficiencies, etc. The DSS model shows that the historic water resources allocation implemented by the Federal government produces adequate results as compared with the other tested water management alternatives. However, for short term drought scenarios, it is showed that there could be other management alternatives that could perform better than the current water management allocation. In general, the DSS shows what we already expect of dynamic models of systems to provide that understanding the effects of multiple interacting variables in necessary to develop good natural resource management policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1519-1548
Number of pages30
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009


  • Irrigation districts
  • Simulation
  • System dynamics
  • Water resources management
  • Water treaty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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