Cross-border Sewage Solutions Resolution - News

Cross-border Sewage Solutions Resolution

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 3:11 pm

In Support of Increased Funding for the U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program (BWIP)

Whereas, several rivers on the southern border of the United States, including the Tijuana, New and San Pedro rivers, either originate in or run through Mexico and flow northward into the United States; and

Whereas, the Rio Grande forms part of the border between the United States and Mexico and receives flows from the Conchos, Salado and San Juan rivers each originating in Mexico; and

Whereas, transboundary water flows are a major source of sewage, trash, chemical, heavy metals and other toxins along the southern border; and

Whereas, these transboundary flows threaten the health of U.S. Citizens, harm important estuarine land and water of international significance, force closure of beaches, compromise border security and directly affect U.S. military readiness at nearby installations; and

Whereas, according to the U.S. Border Patrol union, in 2017, over 80 border agents suffered contamination, injury and illness due to the transboundary runoff, and

Whereas, non-existent and/or degrading infrastructure in the border zone is posing a significant risk to the public health and safety of residents and the environment on both sides of the border, and placing the economic stress on cities that are struggling to mitigate the negative impacts of pollution; and

Whereas, for example, a significant amount of untreated sewage, sediment, and trash have been entering the Tijuana River Watershed (75 percent of which is within Mexico) and flowing into southern California’s coastal waterways since the 1930s; and

Whereas, in February 2017, an estimated 143 million gallons of raw sewage flowed into the Tijuana River and ran downstream into the Pacific Ocean, affecting U. S. Navy SEAL training operations in the ocean of Imperial Beach and Border Patrol operations in the Tijuana River Valley, and also resulting in the closure of a number of beaches along the Pacific coastline; and

Whereas, the 1944 treaty between the United Sates and Mexico regarding Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande allocates flows on trans-border rivers between Mexico and the United States, and provides that the nations, through their respective sections of the International Boundary Water Commission shall give control of sanitation in cross border flows the highest priority; and

Whereas, in 1993, the Untied States and Mexico entered into the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of American and the Government of the United Mexican States Concerning the Establishment of a North American Development Bank which created the North American Development Bank (NADB) to certify and fund environmental infrastructure projects in border-area communities; and

Whereas, Congress authorized funding under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act and the state and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) program for the U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program (BWIP) in 1996 to provide grants for high -priority water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects within 100 kilometers of the southern border; and

Whereas, the EPA administers the STAG and BWIP programs, and coordinates with NADB to allocate BWIP grant funds to projects in the border zone; and

Whereas, since its inception, the BWIP program has provided funding for projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas that would not have been constructed without the grant program; and

Whereas the BWIP program was initially funded at $100 million per year, but over the last 20 years, has been continuously reduced to its current level of $10 million; and

Whereas, in its FY 2020 Budget Request, the Administration proposed to eliminate the BWIP program, and

Whereas, EPA officials from Region 6 and 9 identified a multitude of BWIP-eligible projects along the southern border totaling over $300 million; and

Whereas, without federal partnership through the BWIP program, cities in the border zone are left with limited resources to address international pollution issues and limited legal remedies to address the problem.

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the U.S. conference of Mayors supports increased funding for the BWIP program that is necessary for finding long-term solutions to address discharges of untreated sewage and excessive sediment and trash-laden transboundary flows originating from Mexico that result in significant health, environmental, and safety concerns in communities along the souther border of the United States.