Press Releases

Designates EPA as lead federal agency to address border pollution problems

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, a bill to reduce pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improve the water quality of the Tijuana and New rivers.

The bill would designate the Environmental Protection Agency as the lead agency to coordinate all federal, state and local agencies to build and maintain needed infrastructure projects to decrease pollution along the border.  

“Toxic pollution continues to flow from Mexico into the United States because no federal agency has taken charge to meaningfully address the issue despite decades of problems,” said Senator Feinstein. “This bill would finally end the confusion and put the EPA in charge of fixing the problem. It would require the EPA to work with federal, state and local agencies to develop and build the necessary infrastructure projects to stop the pollution and protect the health and safety of California’s border communities.”

The Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act is supported by the California Environmental Protection Agency; the California Natural Resources Agency; San Diego and Imperial counties; the cities of San Diego, Imperial Beach and Coronado; Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas; and the Port of San Diego.

Based on recommendations from a recent Government Accountability Office report, the bill would:

  • Designate the EPA as the lead agency to address border pollution along the U.S.-Mexico Border and improve water quality of the Tijuana and New rivers entering the United States.

  • Require the EPA, along with its federal, state and local partners, to identify a list of priority projects and would authorize EPA to accept and distribute federal, state, and local funds to build, operate and maintain those projects.

  • Codify the existing Border Water Infrastructure Program to manage stormwater runoff and water reuse projects.

  • Require the International Boundary and Water Commission to participate in the construction of projects identified in the Tijuana and New rivers’ comprehensive plans and specifically authorizes the commission to address stormwater.


For more than two decades, Senator Feinstein has fought to secure funding to build the necessary infrastructure to reduce pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border:

  • Secured more than $200 million for the EPA’s Border Water Infrastructure Program, despite recent efforts by the Trump administration to eliminate the program, and $300 million in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement for water quality improvement projects along the border.

  • Passed the bipartisan North American Development Bank Improvement Act to reauthorize and strengthen the bank so it can continue to invest in environmental infrastructure along the border.

  • Requested a Government Accountability Office report that found that the IBWC lacked the coordination and effectiveness to solve the problem.

    • Specifically, the report found that “Congress should consider providing direction and specific authorization for USIBWC to take action to resolve the long-standing water quality problems associated with transboundary stormwater flows…including identifying alternatives, cost estimates, funding sources, and time frames, in coordination with federal, state, and local partners.”

    • Met with Mexican ambassadors to the United States to push their government to invest in wastewater infrastructure.

    • Passed a requirement that the secretary of state create an interagency plan to address the effects of toxic cross-border flows on communities in the United States.

    • Passed a requirement that Customs and Border Protection submit a report on its efforts to protect its personnel from toxic cross-border flows.