Evaluating water resource management in transboundary river basins using cooperative game theory : the Rio Grande/Bravo basin

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Teasley, Rebecca Lynn

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Water resource management is a multifaceted issue that becomes more complex when considering multiple nations’ interdependence upon a single shared transboundary river basin. With over 200 transboundary river basins worldwide shared by two or more countries, it is important to develop tools to allow riparian countries to cooperatively manage these shared and often limited water resources. Cooperative game theory provides tools for determining if cooperation can exist across jurisdictional boundaries through a suite of mathematical tools that measure the benefits of cooperation among basin stakeholders. Cooperative game theory is also useful for transboundary negotiation because it provides a range of solutions which will satisfy all players in the game and provides methods to fairly and equitably allocate the gains of that cooperation to all participating stakeholders, if that cooperation is shown to be possible. This dissertation applies cooperative game theory concepts to the Rio Grande/Bravo basin in North America as a case study. The Rio Grande/Bravo forms the 1,200 km border between the United States and Mexico. A comprehensive water resources planning model was developed for the basin including the major water users, water related infrastructure including reservoirs, and water policy logic related to the bi-national water sharing agreements. The water planning model is used to calculate the characteristic functions for the cooperative game analysis. For the Water Demand Reduction Game, the largest agricultural users, District 005, District 025 and the Texas Watermaster Section below Falcon were defined individual players. The cooperative analysis was between the individual players rather than the countries. In addition to the cooperative analysis, performance measures for water deliveries were calculated to determine if water delivery was improved to each player under the cooperative game. The results show that the amount of additional water to the downstream players may not be large enough to induce cooperation. The small amount of increase in water deliveries is related to the large system losses as the water travels downstream over a long distance and a division of water under the 1944 Treaty between the United States and Mexico.



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