Strategy for Water Sustainability in the State of Guanajuato

By María Isabel Ortíz Mantilla
November 11th, 14:20-15:00 hrs (GMT-6)

Water problem

The issue of water constitutes a growing concern in the state of Guanajuato, the depletion of aquifers, the contamination of bodies and waterways and the water effects of climate change are problems that require our immediate attention. That is why at SMAOT we have developed a series of strategies to address the issue from our field of advocacy.

 We have proposed a Model of Water Sustainability, which integrates five dimensions: Environmental sustainability of water, Sustainability of domestic water, Sustainability of water for the economy, Sustainability of water in urban areas and Resilience to water-related disasters.

In the Environmental Sustainability of Water Dimension, we promote the conservation and protection of water sources, that is, basins and their ecosystems, infiltration systems and the health of the natural hydrological network and aquatic ecosystems.

We work from the management of natural resources and we give a strong impulse through the design and implementation of an Integral Model of Land and Water Management in which we have integrated the policies of territorial ecological planning and urban territorial planning, with elements of water management to generate land use policies in congruence with the water sustainability model.

For the implementation of projects and actions on the environmental sustainability of water, we work with a basin approach, optimally channeling efforts to solve environmental water problems.

We have developed and implemented various mechanisms for the attention of priority areas:

The State Forest Program: With which we develop actions such as the establishment and maintenance of reforestations and soil and water conservation practices for conservation and restoration purposes in UGAT with a protection and restoration policy.

The Environmental Compensation Program: It is a mechanism by which companies carry out restoration actions in Protected Natural Areas in order to correct potential environmental impacts from the construction and operation of their facilities. From 2016 to 2021, compensation measures have been assigned to 393 companies in 20 protected natural areas of state competence of 26 municipalities, in an area greater than 4,349 hectares; 246 companies have invested 41,159,891 pesos destined mainly for the payment of wages to the inhabitants of the localities surrounding the ANP for the execution of the actions.

The program for the conservation of ecosystems and aquifer recharge zones: With this program we implement actions to conserve ecosystems in the northern region of the State, characterized by significant arid conditions, among the actions we develop are: Tree planting, barrier of stones, well-placed stone filtering dams, adaptation of trench ditches to catch water, catchment banks, sanitary pruning in trees, protection fences and fire-cut gaps. So far, 850 hectares of the 2,000 that we established as a six-year goal have been treated.

Rescue of corridors and water landscapes: We carry out actions to conserve the riparian corridor and recover degraded areas of the Laja River and the Guanajuato River in strategic sites in the municipalities of San Miguel de Allende and Irapuato. Conservation actions were carried out in 45 hectares of these rivers, which implied a state investment of 349 thousand pesos, of which 301 thousand 996 pesos were allocated as economic support to 74 families from the towns bordering the rivers through the employment modality temporary.

Actions were developed such as: environmental education sessions, evaluation of water quality, solid waste collection, removal of dead wood standing and on the ground, elimination of weeds, reforestation of riverine corridors devoid of vegetation and planting of protective bands with vegetation native.

-Results and benefits of the implementation of programs-

 With the implementation of the aforementioned programs and projects:

  • 2,334 Hectares of 23 Municipalities have been intervened, affecting 6 Aquifers.
  • More than 2,241,456 cubic meters of rainwater have been captured in ecosystems of pine-oak forest, tropical deciduous forest, thorn scrub and natural grassland.
  • It has been possible to reduce the trend of loss of total native vegetation, going from a rate of change in the period 2009 to 2014 of -0.14 to a rate of -0.07 in the period of 2014 to 2018 and from -0.17 to -0.03 in vegetation primary school in the same periods.


As part of territorial and environmental governance, we are preparing the implementation of Intermunicipalities Committees for the management of the Environment and Territory, with which we will seek to make synergies to address problems that exceed municipal limits and that require comprehensive interventions.

Likewise, we are beginning the process to issue declarations for the protection of recharge zones due to their strategic importance for the environmental sustainability of water.

About the Keynote speaker:

María Isabel Ortiz Mantilla was born in Puebla, Pue., Mexico, on September 3, 1975. She holds a degree in Education Sciences from the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla, and a Master’s  Degree in Energy and Environmental Policy and Management from FLACSO Mexico.

In 2008 she was elected Councilwoman in the municipality of Puebla. She chaired the Ecology and Environment Commission, and promoted the creation of the Environmental Protection and  Sustainable Development Agency of the Municipality of Puebla, which she headed in 2011; contributing substantially to the creation of the Secretariat of Environment and Public Services of the Municipality of  Puebla, where she was Executive Director for the Environment.

On July 1, 2012 she was elected Federal Deputy in the LXII Legislature, representing the 11th district of  the city of Puebla.

In December 2012 elected as President of the GLOBE Mexico Chapter, she represented our country before International Organizations and Bodies such as the UN, WORLD BANK, UN Environment,  GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FUND (GEF), NORWEGIAN AGENCY FOR DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION (NORAD) and parliaments of various countries.

In December 2013, he promoted the reform of Article 25 of the Constitution to define national  development as sustainable and on October 21, 2014, he presented the initiative to issue the Energy Transition Law, known as the ‘green package’ of the Energy Reform, following it up until its approval and later its publication in the Official Gazette of the Federation.

From September 2015 to August 2018, she served as advisor to the Climate Change Commission in the  Chamber of Deputies of the Congress of the Union; she has also worked as a consultant on sustainability, energy and government issues.

During the 2018-2020 period, she served as vice president of the National Association of State  Environmental Authorities (ANAAE); thanks to her performance, she was elected as president for the 2020-2022 period.

She is also a member of the Regional Committee of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean  (REXCOM) and Representative of the Regional Portfolio of Climate Change and Resilience, effective December 2020-December 2021.

He is currently Head of the recently created Secretariat of Environment and Land Management of the State of Guanajuato.

He has collaborated with the publication of chapters in the books: La Reforma Energética del Siglo XXI, “Razones Éticas, Sociales y Económicas de la Transición Energética”, El Quehacer Legislativo en el  Deporte, “Discapacidad y Deporte”.

She has also given several conferences on relevant topics such as: environment, sustainability, climate change, renewable energies, bullying and women.

Session description

This session contents the following:

  • An overview of Lake Erhai
  • Changes of Governance Stages
  • Measures and Achievements
  • Future Challenges

Session Chair: Sergio Márquez Gamiño, University of Guanajuato