Border sewage pollution EPA
The Tijuana River Valley. Photo credit: Ruff Tuff Cream Puff via Wikimedia Commons

Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, and other local Congress members introduced the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act of 2020 Friday.

The bill is meant to address pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improve the water quality of both the Tijuana and New rivers.

Reps. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, Scott Peters, D-San Diego, Raul Ruiz, D-Coachella, and Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, co-authored the bill. The measure is a House companion bill to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s, D-California, legislation introduced on July 29.

Both bills will designate the Environmental Protection Agency as the coordinator of federal, state local and international agencies that plan and construct infrastructure projects to help combat border pollution.

“We need collaboration and resources from both sides of the border to tackle the ongoing crisis affecting the Tijuana River Valley and New River communities,” Vargas said. “Strong communication between agencies is crucial to creating cost-effective projects with meaningful results.”

Vargas represents California’s entire border with Mexico. The New River flows north into the U.S. through the communities of Mexicali in Baja California and Calexico in Imperial County.

The San Diego delegation secured funding for the Border Water Infrastructure Program as part of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement signed into law earlier this year. This includes $300 million in funding to be distributed over four years, directing the EPA to prioritize wastewater infrastructure projects.

“Toxic contamination from the Tijuana River Valley has been a serious public health and environmental hazard for San Diegans and Coronado for decades,” Peters said. “One reason is that everyone points to someone else when it comes time to make decisions. This bill would ensure the EPA is held solely accountable to clean up the longstanding crisis by requiring they work with other federal, state and local groups and the Mexican government to address the problem and put an end to the pollution.”

– City News Service