Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) applauded the Environmental Protection Agency announcement that it was moving forward with several water infrastructure projects to address transborder water pollution in the San Diego/Tijuana region.
The EPA’s announcement is consistent with the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, which Senators Feinstein and Padilla introduced earlier this year.
“Communities along California’s southern border have been plagued with toxic pollution from Mexico for too long, in part because no single agency was responsible for the issue,” Senator Feinstein said. “I’m pleased to see EPA Administrator Regan take leadership on this issue and invest in these vital projects to clean up border pollution. These projects will help significantly improve the health and quality of life for our border communities.”
“For far too long, toxic waste and raw sewage has flowed across the border into Southern California, polluting our air and water and depriving communities of outdoor recreation and economic opportunities,” Senator Padilla said. “I’m glad we were able to work with the EPA to develop a comprehensive plan to improve sewage treatment in both San Diego County and Tijuana, and build upon the goals of the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, which I joined Senator Feinstein in introducing earlier this year. It is essential that we take action to protect the health and safety of our coastal communities.”
Congress appropriated $300 million for infrastructure to address transborder pollution when it passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2020. The EPA announced today it will use those funds for:
- Expanding the existing South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant owned and operated by the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission;
- Diverting and treating Tijuana River water at a new facility adjacent to the existing ITP;
- Conveying canyon flows to the expanded ITP;
- Repairing portions of the collection system in Mexico to prevent sewage leaks;
- Beneficially reusing treated wastewater instead of discharging it into the Tijuana River;
- Installing a river trash boom; and
- Constructing a new San Antonio de los Buenos Treatment Plant in Tijuana.
Senators Feinstein and Padilla introduced in March 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 EPA 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.
Based on recommendations from a Government Accountability Office report requested by Senator Feinstein that was released last year, 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.