Integrating Urban Planning and Water Management Through Green Infrastructure in the United States-Mexico Border

Francisco Lara-Valencia, Margaret Garcia, Laura M. Norman, Alma Anides Morales, Edgar E. Castellanos-Rubio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Creating sustainable, resilient, and livable cities calls for integrative approaches and collaborative practices across temporal and spatial scales. However, practicability is challenged by institutional, social, and technical complexities and the need to build collective understanding of integrated approaches. Rapid urbanization along the United States-Mexico border, fueled by industrialization, trade, and migration, has resulted in cities confronted with recurrent flooding risk, extended drought, water pollution, habitat destruction and systemic vulnerabilities. The international border, which separates natural and built ecosystems, is both a challenge and an opportunity, making a unique social and institutional setting ideal for testing the integration of urban planning and water management. Our research focuses on fusing multi-functional and multi-scalar green infrastructure to restore ecosystem services through a strategic binational planning process. This paper describes this planning process, including the development and application of both a land suitability analysis and a hydrological model to optimally site green infrastructure in the Nogales, Arizona, United States—Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, cross border region. We draw lessons from this process and stakeholder feedback focused on the potential for urban green infrastructure, to allow for adaptation and even transformation in the face of current and future challenges such as limited resources, underdeveloped governance, bordering, and climate change. In sum, a cross border network of green infrastructure can provide a backbone to connect this transboundary watershed while providing both hydrological and social benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number782922
JournalFrontiers in Water
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • border cities
  • cross-border cooperation
  • green infrastructure (GI)
  • hydrological modeling
  • land suitability analysis
  • urban planning
  • urban water management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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