Southern California and Baja California share, besides a dynamic social and economic exchange and 226 kilometers of borderline, an important natural resource: water from the Colorado River. Both areas have arid and semiarid climate in large zones and local fresh water sources are scarce, so water imports from the Colorado are strategic for their continued social and economic growth.
Southern California’s water supply comes from the State Water Project, the Colorado River Aqueduct and local sources; in turn, Baja California depends mostly on the water supplied by the Colorado River, with an aqueduct that serves the Pacific coastline cities of the state. Both water supply systems are considered high energy consumers, affecting the quality of life in the region.
The sustainable development of both communities is a challenge to Mexican and American public policy planners who must recognize that, to meet the future water demands to support sustainable development in this area it will require improved utilization and management of water resources.
In this paper, water supply sustainable indicators were calculated for southern California and Baja California to evaluate and compare their performance towards sustainability. Findings show big differences in the indicators like water use per person, percentage of the cost of water relative to household income, cost of electricity to convey water, etc. High contrast in both economies makes up for these differences, but as water stakeholders of an only source, that is, the Colorado River, Mexico and the United States should avoid those imbalances in water use and management efficiencies, as it might affect its availability and cost, bringing potential conflicts and disturbing the traditional friendly coexistence and growth of both communities.