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

International Journal of Water Governance

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, Volume 3(4), 1–24. doi:10.7564/14-IJWG79