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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Region 9 Strategic Plan, 2011-14

Geographic Area of Focus: U.S.-Mexico Border

The U.S.-Mexico Border region extends more than 2,000 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, and 62.5 miles on each side of the international border. It is home to more than 13 million people, and is characterized by social, economic, and political contrasts. Ninety percent of the population resides in 15 paired, inter-dependent sister cities.
Rapid population growth in the cities has resulted in unplanned development, demand for land and energy, increased traffic and waste generation, insufficient waste disposal facilities, and more frequent chemical emergencies. Many border residents suffer from exposure to airborne dust, pesticide use, and inadequate water supply and waste water treatment facilities.

The 1983 La Paz Agreement between the U.S. and Mexico serves as the foundation for EPA’s binational cooperation with Mexico on border environmental issues. Three binational environmental agreements have been signed and implemented since 1983. The U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program:  Border 2012 is latest and most ambitious agreement thus far. In the U.S., lead responsibility for the Border 2012 program and its progress, resides primarily within the Region 9 and 6 offices in San Francisco, California and Dallas, Texas. Both regions coordinate their efforts and work jointly with our federal, state and tribal partners in the U.S. and Mexico to address the environmental and public health challenges along the U.S.-Mexico border. The following objectives guide our work:

Collaborate on a multi-stakeholder, long-term border plan
  • Complete the commitments under Border 2012, the current 10-year bi-national environmental program by December 2012, and work to develop a successor bi-national program by August 2012.
  • Fund environmental projects in border communities in 2012-2015 to clean up solid waste, improve binational air quality, improve watershed pollution in the Tijuana and New River watersheds, and increase the use of less toxic pesticides in agricultural operations.

Improve water quality with increased priority for removal of untreated wastewater from binational watersheds and use of sustainable technologies and green building practices in border water infrastructure projects.

  • By the end of 2012, complete construction of three wastewater infrastructure projects and connect 1,500 homes that previously lacked service.
  • Fund additional border water infrastructure projects that produce the highest public health and environmental benefits.
  • By 2015, complete construction of  16 wastewater infrastructure projects and connect 41,000 homes that previously lacked service.
  • Issue a permit for the International Treatment Plant in San Diego by February 2013 to reduce pollutant discharges to the Pacific Ocean.

Reduce air pollution at the border.

  • Support Baja California’s air monitoring network by providing technical assistance, training, performance audits, and developing an air monitoring action plan by November 2012.
  • Support Baja California’s Climate Action Plan by implementing one project from the Action Plan recommendations by the end of 2013.
  • Reduce air pollutants through funding of one pilot project by the end of 2013 that addresses one of the following areas: diesel truck retrofits; small-scale renewable energy development; and/or energy efficiency retrofits.

Clean up border solid waste.

  • Remove at least 25 tons of trash abandoned by migrants on the Tohono O'odham Nation by September 2012. Improve effectiveness of cleanups by working with federal and state agencies to share intelligence information on impacted areas, leveraging EPA funding by collaborating with BLM's Southern Arizona Project on targeted cleanups, and using interagency resources such as aerial surveillance and web-based mapping and information sharing tools.
  • Remove 15 tons of trash in Tijuana through community-based cleanup and training by September 2012. Inform residents, public school teachers, and leaders in order to build broader support for sustainable practices to collect and recover plastics, glass, and food scraps. Empower community members to work more closely with municipal officials to define needed infrastructure and local services, and take incremental steps to prevent unmanaged trash from entering their communities and the Tijuana River estuary.

Focus on children’s exposure to unhealthy air and pesticides.

  • During 2012, work with 12 Calexico schools to implement a flag notification program (and indoor activities curriculum) to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy air in California’s Imperial Valley on bad air quality days.
  • By January 2012, develop, design, and test English/Spanish training modules on toxicology, environmental fate, and transport of pesticides, for use by health outreach workers (promotoras) to share with vulnerable communities along the border.
  • By December, 2012, implement a pilot project that demonstrates and encourages the use of lower risk pest management practices, including the use of less toxic pesticides along the border region.
Enhance joint readiness for emergency environmental response.
  • By January 2013, conduct two “table top” exercises and drills in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico to test the binational communication protocols and hazardous materials response capabilities.
  • By December 2012, revise and update the five sister city joint contingency plans in California/Baja California and Arizona/Sonora with preparedness and prevention related efforts, such as risk and consequence analysis, risk reduction, and counter-terrorism.

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