When Wells Run Dry: Water and Tourism in Nicaragua

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Water security, Tourism, Political ecology, Nicaragua

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College of Natual Science and Mathematics, Geography and the Environment


This article uses a political ecology approach to examine the relationship between tourism and groundwater in southwest Nicaragua. Tourism remains a growing industry; however, adequate provisions of freshwater are necessary to sustain the production and reproduction of tourism and it remains uncertain if groundwater supplies can keep pace with demand. Integrating the findings of groundwater monitoring, geological mapping, and ethnographic and survey research from a representative stretch of Pacific coastline, this paper shows that diminishing recharge and increased groundwater consumption is creating a conflict between stakeholders with various levels of knowledge, power, and access. It concludes that marginalization is attributable to the nexus of a political promotion of tourism, poorly enforced state water policies, insufficient water research, and climatic variability.

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