United States
               Environmental Protection
                EPA 160-K-94-001
                October 1994
               International Activities
Protection Along The
U.S.—Mexico Border
                            Printed with Soy/Canola Ink on paper that
                            contains at least 50% recycled fiber

                        Environmental Protection
                  Along the U.S. - Mexico Border

Introduction 	 1

Historical Environmental Protection Efforts 	3

Current Environmental Protection Efforts	4

Tougher Environmental Enforcement	5

Improving Environmental Quality	7
   Increase Wastewater Treatment                  7
   Air Pollution Mitigation                        7
   Hazardous Waste Management                  8
   Emergency Planning and Response               9
   Pollution Prevention                          10

Promoting Environmental Justice 	10

Financing Border Environmental
   Infrastructure Needs	11

Empowerment Through Public Participation 	11

For Further Information 	13

Case Study
   Tijuana International Wastewater
     Treatment Facility                          14

Case Study
   The El Paso-Cd. Juarez Air Basin                 15

            Environmental Protection Along the United States-Mexico Border
Across  the nearly 2,000 mile U.S.-
Mexico border, U.S. and Mexican com-
munities live side by side, sharing both
the benefits of rapid economic growth
as well as the environmental problems.
Over the last decade, transboundary
environmental problems have grown
in direct proportion to the border
region's dramatic increase in popula-
tion  and industrial development. To-
day,  there are over 9.2 million border
residents, double the population in
1983. Similarly, over 1,800 maquiladora'
manufacturing/assembly operations
now dot the border. While economic
development remains critical to the
prosperity of the border region, the
combined effects of urban and indus-
trial growth have contributed to prob-
lems such as air and water pollution,
improper handling and disposal of
hazardous waste and inadequate en-
vironmental infrastructure, challeng-
ing virtually all communities, small
  Maquiladora is a status under Mexican law that is conferred upon certain manufacturers in Mexico
  that "import" their materials from countries other than Mexico and "export" products and waste to
  countries other than Mexico. Maquiladoras receive preferential tax treatment.
 Tijuana-San Die$o near the San Ysidro port of entry.

        {J United States
        \X Environmental
Protection Agency
and large, along the U.S.-Mexico bor-
    Binational cooperation and ac-
tion are needed to address the unique
transboundary environmental prob-
lems of the border area. President Clin-
ton addressed this when he sought and
won passage of the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), by
    To ensure that border
  environmental concerns
 would be addressed under
 NAFTA, the governments
    established the North
 American Commission on
Environmental Cooperation
requiring additional supplemental
agreements  to  properly address
transboundary environmental prob-
lems along the border.
    To ensure that border environ-
mental concerns would be addressed
under NAFTA,  the U.S., Mexican,
and Canadian governments estab-
lished the North American Commis-
sion on Environmental Cooperation
(CEC), which is headquartered in
Montreal, Canada. Among the CEC's
priority objectives are to improve na-
           tional enforcement of each country's
           laws relating to environmental pro-
           tection and to uphold the environ-
           mental provisions set forth under
           NAFTA. In an effort to address the
           long-neglected environmental infra-
           structure needs of the border region,
           the U.S. and Mexico also established
           the Border Environmental Coopera-
           tion Commission (BECC) and the
           North American Development Bank
           (NADBank). These two new bilateral
           institutions will work with local com-
           munities to arrange financing for vi-
           tally needed environmental public
           works projects.
               During 1995, a review of ongo-
           ing environmental initiatives will be
           undertaken with the Mexican Gov-
           ernment and plans will be developed
           to formulate a new plan, covering
           the period 1995-2000, building on
           achievements  and lessons learned
           from the 1992 Integrated Border Envi-
           ronmental Plan, First Stage (IBEP).
           Recognizing the role of  other U.S.
           and Mexican Federal agencies in ad-
           dressing border environmental and
           health issues, the EPA will work with
           the U.S. Department of Health and
           Human Services, the U.S. Depart-
           ment of Interior, the National Oce-
           anic and Atmospheric Administra-
           tion, and the U.S. Agency for Inter-
           national Development.
               Together with the CEC, BECC,
           NADBank, state and local govern-
           ments, and Mexico's environmental
           authorities, the U.S. Environmental
           Protection Agency will work to im-

           Environmental Protection Along the United States-Mexico Border
prove the environmental quality of the
U.S.-Mexico border region based upon
expanded public participation and an
increased commitment of human and
financial resources to the border region.
Protection Efforts

The United States and Mexico have
long recognized their shared interests
in the border environment. In fact, the
two countries have been involved in
formal cooperative efforts related to
the use of the border's waters for al-
most one hundred years.
    During the 19th century, the Rio
Grande and Colorado River periodi-
cally changed course, causing uncer-
tainty in both countries as to the pre-
cise location of the border. In response,
the two countries signed a convention
in 1889 creating the International
Boundary Commission (IBC), consist-
ing of a Mexican and a U.S. Section, to
resolve boundary location issues re-
lated to movements of the Rio Gi ande
and Colorado River.
    In 1944 the two countries agreed
by treaty to create a new International
Boundary and Water Commission
(IBWC), to assume primary responsi-
bility for border water sanitation
projects agreed to by both countries.
Consequently, in addition to its other
duties, the IBWC is involved in the
planning, construction, operation, and
maintenance of several wastewater
treatment plants.
     In 1983 joint Mexican-U.S. envi-
ronmental activities in the border area
were formalized with the signing of a
comprehensive U.S.-Mexico Border
Environmental Agreement known as
the "La Paz Agreement". This agree-
ment defined the border area as a 100-
kilometer wide zone on either side of
the political boundary, and it estab-
lished a general framework in which
both countries agreed to prevent, re-
duce, and eliminate sources of air,
water, and land pollution. Under the
La Paz framework, six work groups in
the areas of enforcement, water, haz-
ardous waste, air, emergency response
and planning, and pollution preven-
tion have been established.
     Based  on  the commitments set
forth under the La Paz Agreement, the
EPA and SEDUE (now known as
SEDESOL—the Secretariat for Social
Development), Mexico's environmen-
tal agency, released the Integrated Bor-
der Environmental Plan, First Stage
(1992-1994)  (IBEP) in February 1992.
The aim of the IBFP was to strengthen
cooperation bet   jn the United States
and Mexico  in improving the environ-
ment of the border area. The key ob-
jectives of this first stage plan were to:
strengthen  enforcement of existing
laws; reduce pollution through new
initiatives; increase cooperative plan-
ning, training and education; and im-
prove the understanding of the border

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        XX Environmental Protection Agency
Protection  Efforts
Bilateral programs have responded to
the changing environmental condi-
tions along the U.S.-Mexico border. For
example, as the prospect of NAFTA
and its passage brought anticipations
of economic growth in the border area,
there has been an ,urgent need to re-
spond to priority environmental con-
cerns not being adequately addressed.
Accordingly, the Clinton Administra-
tion has expanded the scope of EPA's
work along the border to include ini-
tiatives aimed at:

• tougher environmental
 improving environmental quality;

1 promoting environmental justice
 among the border region's
 disadvantaged minorities;

1 financing the border's
 environmental infrastructure
 deficiencies; and

1 empowering border community
 groups to improve their
 environment through increased
 public participation.
 Construction of the Nuevo Laredo Wasteuiater Treatment Facility.

           Environmental Protection Along the United States-Mexico Border    5

The U.S. and Mexico are working to-
gether to ensure compliance with en-
vironmental laws on both sides of the
border. The two countries' environ-
mental agencies are increasing their
own enforcement capacity, pursuing
violators, and investigating cases in-
volving transboundary pollution
along the U.S.-Mexico border.
    The two countries are collaborat-
ing to increase environmental enforce-
ment capacity in Mexico through train-
ing of over 370 Mexican inspectors and
cooperating in the development of in-
house training capacity for Mexican
inspectors. From its creation in 1992
through  March  1994,  Mexico's
SEDESOL has conducted over 19,000
inspections, almost 3,500 of them in
border states, including over 2,000 at
maquiladora facilities. During this pe-
riod, SEDESOL closed or partially
closed 232 border area facilities (in-
cluding 208 maquiladoras) for environ-
mental violations.
    The  growing enforcement net-
work has resulted in enhanced coop-
eration among the U.S. local, state, and
federal agencies that are involved with
enforcing environmental laws. For ex-

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        XX Environmental Protection Agency
ample, a Task Force in San Diego
County, California made up of state
and local environmental groups, pub-
lic health and law enforcement offi-
cials, the U.S. Customs Service, FBI,
and EPA, has been working to detect
environmental violations. The Task
Force activities have encouraged in-
creased cooperation among the U.S.
and Mexican Customs Services in de-
tecting illegal waste shipments, which
has lead to criminal prosecutions.
     EPA is providing grants to state
environmental enforcement agencies
to support their efforts to identify en-
vironmental violations in the border
area. Texas launched a comprehensive
border enforcement program, which
coordinates field training and surveil-
lance activity for illegal waste ship-
ments with the U.S. Customs Service
to identify violations in the border
area. New Mexico is developing a full-
time inspector program to focus  on
enforcement of air, water, and hazard-
ous waste laws in the border area.
     EPA, the Department of Justice
and  the states of Arizona and New
Mexico have signed agreements creat-
ing Natural Resources Protection Co-
ordinating Committees  to provide
communication and coordination of
enforcement activities among local,
state, federal,  and  corresponding
Mexican agencies. A Strike Force, cre-
ated by Texas' Attorney General and
supported by EPA and the Department
of Housing and Urban Development,

Binational emergency response exercises at the Brownsi'ille-Matamoros port of entry.

           Environmental Protection Along the United States-Mexico Border
is utilizing innovative enforcement
techniques to attack the problem of
environmental degradation in Texas'
colonias communities.



As the enforcement of existing envi-
ronmental laws and  regulations on
both sides of the border is strength-
ened, the amount of pollution in the
environment will decline. In addition,
the Mexican and U.S. governments
have undertaken a number of new ini-
tiatives in collaboration with state and
local governments to provide further
environmental protection for the bor-
der environment.
     The following are recent initia-
tives related to water, air, hazardous
waste, emergency response,  and pol-
lution prevention.

Increase Wastewater

Wastewater treatment activities are a
central component of bilateral coop-
erative efforts in the border area. Cur-
rently, work is underway to construct
the Tijuana International Wastewater
Treatment Facility. When complete,
this $383 million project will reduce
pollution of the Tijuana River and thus
protect the National Estuarine Re-
search Reserve and the Pacific coast-
line south of San Diego.
Unsafe drinking water supplies remains the single
biggest public health concern for disadvantages
communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico
     This fall, work will also be com-
pleted on the $50 million wastewater
treatment plant serving the sister city
communities of Nuevo Laredo/
Laredo.  Planning has also begun for
the expansion of the international
wastewater facility in Nogales, Ari-
zona and a facility to treat wastewater
in the Imperial Valley/Mexicali border

Air Pollution Mitigation

To improve air quality in the border
region,  emissions inventories and
monitoring networks are being devel-
oped for priority binational air basins,

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        \f Environmental Protection Agency
including San Diego/Tijuana, Imperial
Valley/Mexicali, El Paso/Ciudad
Juarez, and Ambos Nogales to deter-
mine ambient air pollution concentra-
tions, apportion sources and their rela-
tive impacts, recommend cost effective
control strategies,  and  measure
progress/compliance. Baseline air
quality data are being gathered in cur-
rently unmonitored areas. In addition,
major non-urban sources of air pollu-
tion will be addressed through a modi-
fied source review process for all
sources that may impact the other
country and through specialized ad
hoc agreements.
Under NAFTA, the BECC and NADBank have been
established to facilitate the financing of wastewater
treatment facilities in the border region.
Hazardous Waste

With the passage of NAFTA, a num-
ber of changes are expected during the
coming years in the movement and
generation of hazardous waste in the
border region. In particular, the current
Mexican statutory requirement that all
wastes generated by maquiladoras be
returned to the U.S. may be phased
out. Additionally, new hazardous
waste disposal facilities are expected
to open in Mexico. While the border
area will continue to become more in-
dustrialized though the end of the de-
cade, its relative importance as an in-
dustrial zone will likely diminish as
Mexico's interior becomes more devel-
oped. The border, however, will con-
tinue to be important as a transit zone.
Increased traffic of hazardous waste
and enforcement under NAFTA will
likely lead to increased repatriation of
illegally exported waste and hence the
need to establish EPA legal authorities
with respect to repatriation.
    EPA and SEDESOL have devel-
oped HAZTRAKS, a binational data-
base that records information on waste
that is imported and exported from
both countries and compiles it to show
the total volume and different types of
waste crossing the US/Mexican bor-
der.  The system aims  to track
transboundary movements of hazard-
ous wastes on a "cradle to grave" ba-
    Together EPA and SEDESOL
have strengthened the consultative
process for siting new waste facilities

           Environmental Protection Along the United States-Mexico Border
in the border area. EPA continues to
provide technical assistance  to
SEDESOL to improve Mexican capac-
ity to identify inactive and abandoned
waste sites, as well as to improve per-
mitting and the operation of waste fa-
cilities. In addition, EPA is working to
assist SEDESOL in closing the Nogales
landfill and opening a new solid waste
disposal facility.

Emergency Planning and

Because of widespread concern
about the possibility of spills or ac-
cidents involving hazardous sub-
stances in densely-populated, exten-
sively-traveled areas along the bor-
der, EPA and SEDESOL have been
working to expand planning, train-
ing, and education efforts related to
chemical accidents and emergencies.
During  the last two years, the U.S.
and Mexico have dramatically en-
hanced  the emergency response ca-
pabilities of border  area communi-
ties through a series of contingency
plan exercises and training programs
for local officials.
    To  further enhance' these  con-
tingency planning and response ef-
forts, EPA has also recently teamed
with the International City/County
Children playing near boundary of the U.S.-Mexico border.

United States
Environmental Protection Agency
Management Association (ICMA) to
launch a  "Sister Cities Initiative."
This initiative seeks to help sister city
pairs share innovative techniques to
reduce the risk of chemical accidents.
EPA has also completed sister-city
profiles that describe the location of
hazardous waste materials at facili-
ties and the transport of these mate-
rials along the border.

Pollution Prevention

Pollution prevention is an innova-
tive approach to environmental pro-
tection that  promises  substantial
benefits in the border area. It is a
relatively inexpensive way to protect
the environment since the costs in-
volved in preventing pollution often
are dramatically lower than the costs
of treatment  and disposal. Because
privately-owned businesses have an
economic incentive to develop ways
of minimizing waste, they are often
willing to apply their own technical
expertise in voluntary  programs,
thus reducing the need for govern-
ment regulation.
    Furthermore, pollution preven-
tion efforts lessen the possibility of
hazardous spills or accidents occur-
ring either  within or  outside a
facility's boundaries because less
hazardous material needs to be
handled, transported, and disposed.
In promoting pollution prevention in
the  border  region,   EPA  and
SEDESOL are undertaking a variety
of initiatives including: the develop-
ment of pollution prevention manu-
als for specific industries, including
                      metal and wood finishing, and the
                      support of pollution prevention pro-
                      grams to be developed by a consor-
                      tium of border area universities.
                          Among those border
                          residents targeted for
                          assistance by EPA are
                        those living in colonias,
                          communities without
                      adequate drinking water or
                           sewage hook-ups.
                      Border communities are among the
                      poorest in the U.S. More than 20 per-
                      cent of the population lives below
                      the poverty level, as compared to 12
                      percent for  the rest of the United
                      States. As such, border residents are
                      more often subjected to poor envi-
                      ronmental and public health condi-
                          President Clinton signed Ex-
                      ecutive Order No. 12898, Federal

           Environmental Protection Along the United States-Mexico Border   11
Actions to Address Environmental
Justice in Minority Populations and
Low-income Populations, on Febru-
ary 11,  1994. One provision of the
Order is that all covered federal
agencies begin an inter-agency re-
view of federal, state, and local regu-
lations and enforcement that affect
communities of color and low in-
come, such as those found on the
border. The objective is to formulate
an aggressive investigation of the in-
equalities  in exposure  to environ-
mental hazards and to develop effec-
tive programs to address these in-
    Among those border residents
targeted for assistance  by  EPA are
those living in colonias, unincorpo-
rated communities without adequate
drinking water or sewage hook-ups.
Located mostly along the border re-
gion of Texas and New Mexico, there
are currently over 300,000 U.S. resi-
dents living in colonias.  Most
colonias residents live without clean
running water or working toilets in
their homes and are, hence, suscep-
tible to water-borne diseases such as
hepatitis A and Shigella dysentery.
According to a University  of Texas
study, 85-90 percent of colonia resi-
dents had been infected by H 'pati-
tis A by the age of 35 years.
    To address  the colonias prob-
lem, EPA has awarded the States of
Texas and  New  Mexico a series of
loans and grants, totalling $60 mil-
lion over the last few years to pro-
vide environmental services.
Financing  Border
To address the long-neglected environ-
mental infrastructure needs of the bor-
der region, the U.S. and Mexico have
established two new institutions: the
Border Environment Cooperation
Commission (BECC) to work with lo-
cal communities to develop plans for
better meeting their need for environ-
       The BECC and

       NADBank will

        work closely

    with EPA to develop

    innovative solutions

      to fiuai-ce priority

       enirir nmuntal

  infrastructure projects for

     communities along

   the U.S.-Mexico border.

 Q United States
VX Environmental
Protection Agency
mental facilities (including wastewa-
ter treatment plants, drinking water
systems, as well as solid waste disposal
facilities) and the North American De-
velopment Bank (NADBank) to lever-
age  private sector capital to  fi-
nance the construction of border
c-nv iron mental   infrastructure
projects.  The  BECC  and  the
NADBank are located in Ciudad
Juarez, Chihuahua and San Anto-
nio,  Texas respectively  and will
work closely with EPA to develop
innovative solutions to finance pri-
ority environmental infrastructure
protects for communities  along the
U.S.-Mexico border.
Through Public

EPA recognizes that the people who
live and work along the border must
May an essential role  in binational
plans and activities to protect their
border en\ ironment. Accordingly EPA
has taken several steps to ensure that
public participation is  incorporated
into its ongoing programmatic activi-
ties in the border region.
    In order to promote greater
public outreach EPA is establishing
border program offices in San Di-
ego, California and El Paso, Texas
                          These offices will be charged with
                          the  management of bilateral pro-
                          grams established by the U.S. and
                          Mexico as well as coordinating
                          these initiatives with state and local
                          governments, industry, academia,
                          and environmental & community
                          groups in the border area.
                              On-going public input on border
                          environmental issues will also be
                          sought by EPA through the Congres-
                          sionally established Good  Neighbor
                          Environmental Board made up of 30
                          border area decision makers from lo-
                          cal and state government, business,
                          academia, and non-governmental or-
                          ganizations. Though the Good Neigh-
                          bor  Environmental Board has been
                          specifically charged with advising the
                          President and the U.S. Congress on en-
                          vironmental  matters specific  to the
                          border,  EPA and other Federal agen-
                          cies  look forward to working closely
                          with the Board in obtaining advice that
                          will  shape future governmental initia-
                          tives in the border area.
                              To promote greater public partici-
                          pation and the initiation of regional
                          border environmental activities aimed
                          at complimenting on-going EPA pro-
                          grammatic activities, EPA has pro-
                          vided grant funding to a variety of
                          border area state and local government
                          agencies as well as environmental non-
                          government organizations active in the
                          region.  Details  on EPA border area
                          grant funding may be obtained by con-
                          tacting EPA's Mexico Program.

           Environmental Protection Along the United States-Mexico Border    13
For  Further Information
For more information on EPA's involvement along the U.S.-Mexico border and
elsewhere in Mexico, please contact:
EPA Border Programs
    EPA Headquarters:
    William Nitze
    Assistant Administrator
    Office of International Activities
    Attention: Mexico Team
    401 M Street, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20460
    Tel: (202) 260-4870

    EPA Bonier Program Office
    4150 Rio Bravo
    El Paso, Texas 79901
    (915) 533-7273

    EPA Region 6
    Attention: Oscar Ramirez
    1445 Ross Avenue, 12th Floor
    Dallas, TX 75202-2733
    Tel: (214) 665-2100

    EPA Region 9
    Attention: John Hamill
    75 Hawthorne Street
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    Tel: (415) 744-1281
    Enrique Manzanilla
    Environmental Attache
    U.S. Embassy-Mexico
    P.OJ3ox 3087
    Laredo, Texas 78044-3087
    Tel: 011-52-5-211-0042, ext. 3595

Good Neighbor
Environmental Board

    Robert Hardaker
    Designated Federal Officer
    U.S. Environmental Protection
    401 M Street, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20460
    Tel: (202) 260-2477

 Q United States
\X Environmental
Protection Agency
 Case  Study
Tijuana International
Wastewater Treatment

One major reason for environmental
problems along the U.S.-Mexico bor-
der is the rapid population growth in
the border communities. Tijuana, Baja
California, Mexico has grown from just
500 people 70 years ago, to a city of
one million people today and houses
more than 550 maquiladora manufactur-
ing  plants.  Tijuana's population
growth has overwhelmed its sewage
collection and treatment systems, with
frequent overflows and breakdowns.
     The "fugitive" sewage, as the
overflow is  called, flows into the
Tijuana River, across the border near
San Diego, and into the Pacific Ocean
near popular recreation beaches. The
danger to public health has forced au-
thorities  to close the beaches many
times. Both the state of California and
the city of San Diego have declared
states of  emergency due to the con-
taminated water.
     Working with other federal, state
and city  government agencies, and
with the U.S. and Mexican sections of
the International Boundary and Water
Commission, EPA has requested and
received  from Congress nearly $190
                          million to build an international waste-
                          water treatment plant on the border,
                          with more money requested to meet
                          the U.S. share of the total cost of $383
                          million for the plant and its ocean out-
                          fall. A spate of sewage overflows start-
                          ing in late 1993 led EPA and its project
                          partners to accelerate design and con-
                          struction to capture the overflows and
                          at  least partially treat them by 1995.
                          The project is scheduled for comple-
                          tion in 1998.
                              The Tijuana plant is being built
                          almost entirely with government
                          grant funds. Future border environ-
                          mental projects, however, may be fi-
                          nanced through an $8 billion pool of
                          government and private-sector
                          funds anticipated for border pollu-
                          tion control over the  next 10 years.
                          This money, including about $2 bil-
                          lion from the NADBank, is-far more
                          than has ever been available for bor-
                          der pollution control. The BECC and
                          NADBank provide a new way  for
                          communities along the border to
                          have greater control and input in
                          fulfilling  their pollution control
                          needs on the U.S.-Mexico border.

           Environmental Protection Along the United States-Mexico Border    15
Case Study
The El Paso-Cd. Juarez Air

The U.S. and Mexico are working to
complete an air quality modelling
analysis for the El Paso-Ciudad
Juarez-Sunland Park airshed. The
analysis is to evaluate candidate air
pollution control strategies for their
efficacy in  improving air quality.
This type of air quality monitoring
requires a substantiable amount of
background data, which  the two
countries are cooperating to obtain.
The participating U.S. and  Mexican
agencies are also developing air pol-
lution control strategies through a
local work group, known as the Paso
del Norte Air Quality Task Force.
The Task Force, which was formed
in 1993, is pursuing air pollution
control strategies that can be quickly
and easily implemented in order to
achieve rapid results.
     To date, three major ambient air
field studies have been undertaken in
Ciudad Juarez—a vehicular emissions
survey and two major traffic surveys.
Ambient   monitoring networks
throughout the airshed have also been
expanded and upgraded, with four
new, permanent air monitoring  sta-
tions  established in Ciudad Juarez.
With EPA grant funds, the state of
Texas is planning to establish a new
central El Paso air monitoring site at
or near the maximum air pollution
concentration location. Another state
sponsored project, supported by EPA
funds, is the expansion of the air emis-
sions inventory efforts with Mexico in
Ciudad Juarez. By late 1994, the inves-
tigators hope to compile the first
Ciudad Juarez vehicular emissions in-
    In March 1994, the U.S. Depart-
ment of Energy committed funds to do
technical studies of the air  pollution
problem in the area, which EPA antici-
pates will contribute to an accelerated
schedule of the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez-
Sunland Park modelling  analysis.
EPA's Region 6 in Dallas, the Depart-
ment of Energy, and the state and lo-
cal governments have discussed this
new endeavor and are planning their
technical efforts for joint participation.