U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) today traveled to the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) Wastewater Treatment Plant near the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego to highlight federal efforts to address transborder water pollution in the area. Padilla received briefings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and IBWC on current projects aimed at reducing regional pollution. During the visit, Padilla also heard from stakeholders on the environmental and flooding impacts the proposed Tijuana River border wall project would have on the region.
“For far too long, toxic waste and raw sewage have flowed across the border into Southern California, bringing health hazards and environmental threats into our own backyards,” said Senator Padilla. “This pollution continues to contaminate Southern California’s air and water, depriving communities of outdoor recreation and economic opportunities. It is critical that we build on the federal investments we secured last year in order to implement a comprehensive, long-term solution to improve sewage treatment in both San Diego County and Tijuana.”
“We are grateful for the Senator’s attention to this plant and for his support on improving sanitation efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border. We look forward to continuing our collaboration on obtaining the funding necessary to achieve the objective of reducing the transboundary flows for the benefit of the beaches and the surrounding communities,” said Dr. Maria-Elena Giner, P.E., Commissioner, IBWC, United States Section.
“Border communities share one watershed, and the solutions to reducing pollution in our shared environment require collaboration across all levels of government,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Today we discussed the critical role of ongoing maintenance required for success on both sides of the border, especially with the addition of the Customs and Border Patrol bridge and gate infrastructure.”
Senator Padilla successfully secured language in the FY 2023 appropriations package to eliminate red tape and allow the EPA to deliver $300 million previously secured in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to the International Boundary and Water Commission for water infrastructure projects. This funding is critical for reducing transboundary water pollution in the San Diego/Tijuana region. Padilla also worked to secure $3.45 million for the Smuggler’s Gulch Dredging Project in San Diego County, which will dredge Smuggler’s Gulch channel to clear trash and sediment and protect downstream properties, habitats, and communities as well as human and environmental health in the Tijuana River Watershed and coastal waters.