Monthly Archives: January 2017

Water Security Challenges in Costa Rica?

Water security is not the first environmental challenge that comes to mind when one mentions Costa Rica.  Perhaps tropical deforestation or biodiversity loss probably come to mind before water resources.  The nation, as a whole, is water wealthy. The available water in Costa Rica is 2.8 × 104 m3/person-year while only 1.5 × 103 m3/year is used, allowing some growth in resource use.  Yet, a closer look and a few questions to government agencies, farmers, and local people, reveal how water security challenges have slowly moved to the center of debates and discussions on environmental management for this Central American country. That is, water security is more than simply water access.

There are several key challenges that commonly arise in my recent conversations:

  • Rise of hydroelectricity to achieve national carbon goals
  • Water-Food-Ecological Services conflicts in the Tempisque Watershed
  • Agro-industrial pollution of waterways
  • Water security for local communities in tourist areas of Guanacaste (Pacific Coast)
  • Transboundary conflict (Rio San Juan) and cooperation (Sixoala)
  • Overuse and agrochemical contamination of aquifers

And what looms over all of these is unknown impacts related to what Robin Leichenko and Karen O’Brien have called the “double exposure”:  the interactions between global environmental change and economic globalization.  In Costa Rica’s case, it is climate variability, increase demand for export crops, and the rise of Chinese FDI and investment in several key sectors, that further exacerbate the water challenges.

So, for the next few years, it looks like there will be plenty of opportunities for students to study water security and governance issues as part of a study abroad in Costa Rica.  I hope to have this ready for Summer 2018. 

img_1357View from TAMU Soltis Center, Costa Rica, “homebase” for study abroad, research activities and outreach.

img_1356Student groups make their mark on the walls, pillars, and soon, the ceilings of the dining hall at the Soltis Center.


Feel free to call me Dr.

Thank you, Dr. Biolock. A clear reminder that titles do matter.

Tenure, She Wrote

It happens so frequently, to me, to my friends and colleagues, and in professional settings no less. In asking about your work, they say, “Mrs. Biolock, can you explain your findings?” You find yourself wondering if it is necessary to correct them, to ask them to refer to you by your professional title: “Dr.” When deciding whether to halt the conversation, to introduce that awkward moment of correction, we are actually considering whether (as my mother would say) we are willing to ruin the party. Is your name, your title worthy of the tricky pause, the halted speech, and the stilted correction?

Whether someone refers to you as “Dr.” or “Mrs.” or “Ms.”, and whether or not you correct them is in some small part about the politics of respectability. Not the typical respectability politics (à la Don Lemon ) that continues to haunt the Black community, but the…

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Water insecurity exacerbated as drought continues

Urban water insecurity increases as poor governance and water scarcity collide in small cities in the interior of Northeast Brazil.

See video.Waiting for water


Water Security Sessions in CLAG New Orleans

Leaving for New Orleans to attend the Conference of Latin American Geographers Conference early tomorrow morning.  I appreciate smaller conferences and hopes of less performance and more engagement.   The organizers have kept the conference to only three concurrent sessions, but I probably will miss some talks regardless of the careful planning.  Here are the two sessions on water and water security.  Very exciting group of scholars!

Thursday, 5 January — 1:00-2:40, Water Security in Latin America I (Ballroom)

  • Organizer: Wendy Jepson (Texas A&M University) Chair: Wendy Jepson (Texas A&M University)
  • J. Alejandro Artiga-Purcell (University of California, Santa Cruz). Under-Mining El Salvador’s Water Security: The co-production of gold mining and waterscape in El Salvador.
  • Emilie Schur (University of Arizona). Technofixes and Water Security in Vulnerable Mexican Border Communities: Assessing Puerto Palomas.
  • David Robles (Florida International University) and Elizabeth Anderson (Florida International University). Pastoralist Participation and Water Security in the Era of Water Scarcity: Comparing the Wayuu of northern Colombia and the Kuria of northern Tanzania.
  • Ashley Coles (Texas Christian University). Information and infrastructure: Overcoming the Challenges of Community-managed Water and Sanitation in Cali, Colombia.
  • Edson Vicente da Silva (Universidade Federal do Ceará), Francisco Otávio Landim Neto (Universidade Federal do Ceará), Juliana Felipe Farias (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte), José Manuel Mateo Rodriguez (Universidad de Havana), Adryane Gorayeb (Universidade Federal do Ceará). Geoecologia de los Paisajes y la Planificacón de Cuencas Hidrográficas en Ceará, Brasil

Thursday, 5 January — 3:00-4:40, Water Security in Latin America II (Ballroom)

  • Benjamin P. Warner (University of Massachusetts). Smallholder adaptation to drought in Costa Rica’s crony capitalist rice economy.
  • G. Thomas LaVanchy (University of Denver) and Sarah T. Romano (University of Northern Colorado). Challenges to water security along the “Emerald Coast”: A political ecology of local water governance in Nicaragua.
  • Paula Tomaz (Federal University of Ceara) and Wendy Jepson (Texas A&M University). Urban water insecurity in droughtaffected cities of Northeast Brazil.
  • Lindsay Sansom (Texas A&M University) and Kent Portney (Texas A&M University). U.S.-Mexico Water Cooperation and Conflict.