EPA Dedicates $300 Million to Combat Tijuana River Pollution

May 12, 2020
Press Release
Washington, D.C. — Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris and Representatives Susan Davis, Mike Levin, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas (all D-Calif.) today announced the Environmental Protection Agency submitted its expenditure plan to Congress dedicating the entire $300 million appropriated in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act to address the problem of toxic sewage flowing across the border into San Diego County.
 
The funds will be used for the engineering, planning, design and construction of wastewater infrastructure at the border.
 
The members released the following statement:
 
“San Diegans have suffered too long from the regular flow of raw sewage into our country from Mexico. With the full $300 million, the EPA can now lead a comprehensive and coordinated effort with the local community to build much-needed wastewater infrastructure for the region.
 
“The health and safety of California’s border communities must be a top priority for everyone involved. We will continue to work with local communities, the state and federal agencies to finally bring some relief to San Diego County.
 
“This is a positive step toward alleviating cross-border sewage spills affecting California. Our work, however, is far from over. In the best interest of the general public, we must continue taking meaningful action towards addressing transboundary sewage flows from flowing into the United States.”
 
Background:
 
In February, the Government Accountability Office released a report citing the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) lacked the coordination and effectiveness to solve the problem. 
 
The GAO 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.”
 
In the most recent government funding bill, the members also secured:
  • And additional $25 million for the EPA’s Border Water Infrastructure Improvement Program, a $10 million increase over last year.
  • Authorization for the North American Development Bank to fund additional projects related to water pollution, wastewater treatment, water conservation, municipal solid waste, stormwater drainage and non-point pollution.
  • A requirement that the Secretary of State creates an interagency plan to address the effects of toxic cross-border flows on communities in the United States. The plan will include which agencies are responsible and what steps will be taken to ensure it’s a priority for Mexico. 
  • A requirement that U.S. Customs and Border Protection submits a report on efforts to protect its agents from toxic cross-border flows.
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