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Bill Introduced To Reduce Water Pollution At US-Mexico Border

Water moving through the Tijuana River Valley on the U.S. side of the international border on Mar. 5, 2020.
Erik Anderson
Water moving through the Tijuana River Valley on the U.S. side of the international border on Mar. 5, 2020.

A bill aimed at addressing pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improving water quality in the Tijuana and New rivers was introduced Wednesday.

The Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act would designate the Environmental Protection Agency as the lead agency coordinating federal, state and local agencies to build and maintain infrastructure projects aimed at reducing pollution along the border. It would also require the EPA and other agencies to identify a list of priority projects and would authorize the EPA to accept and distribute federal, state, and local funds to build, operate and maintain those projects.

Additionally, the International Boundary and Water Commission would be required to participate in the construction of projects identified in the Tijuana and New rivers' comprehensive plans. The existing Border Water Infrastructure Program would also be codified to manage stormwater runoff and water reuse projects.


The legislation was introduced by California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla.

"Toxic sewage and waste has flowed into the United States from Mexico for years because federal agencies haven't stepped up to deal with the problem," Feinstein said. "The people of Southern California have been forced to suffer while different federal agencies keep passing the buck. This bill will put an end to the confusion by putting the EPA in charge of coordinating efforts and fixing the problem."

Padilla said, "For too long, toxic waste and raw sewage has flowed across the border into Southern California, polluting our air and water and depriving border communities of outdoor recreation and economic opportunities. While federal agencies have largely ignored this problem, the health and safety of our coastal communities remains threatened."

Companion legislation from San Diego-area representatives are also in the works, according to a joint statement from Feinstein and Padilla's offices, which said their bill is supported by several state and local entities, including the California Environmental Protection Agency, San Diego and Imperial counties, and the cities of San Diego, Imperial Beach and Coronado.