Symbolic implementation

Governance assessment of the water treatment plant policy in the Puebla’s Alto Atoyac sub-basin, Mexico


  • Cesar Casiano Flores University of Twente
  • Cheryl de Boer University of Twente


Water governance, Governance assessment, Symbolic implementation, Puebla’s Atoyac basin


During the last decades of policy reforms, new instruments have been developed
and substantial economic resources have been invested to improve water sanitation
quality in Mexico. Despite these efforts, pollution levels have increased in different parts of
the country and very few studies have addressed this crucial situation. This paper focuses
on Puebla’s Alto Atoyac sub-basin, whose main river the “Atoyac” is now considered the
third most polluted in Mexico despite being a priority of the national government since
the last decade. This paper assesses the governance context of the water treatment plants
policy in order to find how supportive the context is towards the implementation process.
The assessment is conducted using the Governance Assessment Tool (GAT). It includes
descriptive-analytical and semi-normative elements. Using four qualities of governance,
namely extent, coherence, flexibility and intensity the assessment allows deeper
understanding of the governance context and how this impacts the policy implementation.
Data collection involved structured in-depth interviews with stakeholders from three
governmental levels, the private sector and society. This inductive process is complemented
with secondary data. The research concludes that the combination of the given
qualities creates a governance context that restricts the implementation of the water
treatment plant policy, favouring short-term outcomes.


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How to Cite

Flores, C. C., & de Boer, C. . (2015). Symbolic implementation: Governance assessment of the water treatment plant policy in the Puebla’s Alto Atoyac sub-basin, Mexico. International Journal of Water Governance, 3(4), 1–24. Retrieved from



Research Article

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