Ulises Ruiz and Fidel Herrera - the respective governors of southeastern Mexican states Oaxaca and Veracruz - have signed a letter of intent to develop the Papaloapan river basin, local press reported.
The document signed by the leaders of the two states will prepare the way for a series of joint actions designed to improve and optimize management of hydrological infrastructure in the region, general coordinator of the Papaloapan development council (Codepap) Juan Manuel Irigoyen told BNamericas.
The agreement will also allow the two states to take advantage of the productive potential of the main watercourse and its many tributaries for the benefit of the local population, Irigoyen said.
"The works to be carried out involve development of a whole range of areas within the basin, such as irrigation to improve agricultural production, programs to promote forestry and fish farming, roads and river navigation to move produce - all of which will be done considering the ecological nature of the basin," the Codepap coordinator said.
"We work under a scheme with small agricultural producers to develop flooding irrigation, which is more efficient than digging canals for irrigation... The farmers provide as much as 50-60% of the investment and we [state authorities] finance the rest," the official added.
Much of the national financing for irrigation has been focused on the north of the country, Irigoyen said. However, promoting such projects in less arid areas, such as Veracruz, is actually more efficient since the systems used are more modern and irrigation need not be done during the May-September rainy season.
To carry out the developments intended for the region, the two state's development planning committees will jointly coordinate regional programs, with the general goal of improving the living standards of those living in the region.
These plans will include the execution of infrastructure works related to water control, although most of the large infrastructure controlling the rivers in the region is already in place. Also considered are sanitation projects and the promotion of sustainable use of the water from the river and its tributaries, as well as underground water sources.
With an area of some 46,517 sq km, the basin of the Papaloapan river is the second largest in Mexico. Apart from Oaxaca and Veracruz, it also covers part of Puebla state, although only a relatively small portion of the basin lies in this state. As such, Puebla was not included in the agreements to develop the region.
The basin contains a total 244 municipalities and has a population of around 3.3 million people, according to national statistics institute (INEGI) data.
The river itself covers around 900km in total under various different names and flows into the Gulf of Mexico on the Veracruz coast.