Pollution

To mitigate transborder water pollution, EPA issues draft Environmental Impact Statement

SAN DIEGO — The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) invite the public to review and comment by August 1 on the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for a set of proposed projects that comprise the Comprehensive Infrastructure Solution for mitigating transborder water pollution. EPA and USIBWC will convene public information sessions to discuss the proposed projects and public meetings to accept comments.

The Tijuana River carries treated and untreated wastewater, trash, and sediment from Mexico across the border into the United States. In addition, polluted discharge into the Pacific Ocean from Tijuana’s San Antonio de Los Buenos wastewater treatment plant is carried northward by ocean currents during the summer, impacting beaches in southern San Diego County. The PEIS released today is part of the environmental review process required as the next step to move forward on the infrastructure actions announced by EPA in November 2021. Completing the PEIS is necessary to initiate planning, design , and construction of an initial part of a comprehensive set of infrastructure projects in San Diego and Tijuana to stem the flow of transborder pollution.

“The border communities share one watershed, and the solutions to reduce pollution in our shared environment require binational collaboration across all levels of government. EPA has worked closely with the USIBWC, a wide range of stakeholders, and the public to achieve today’s milestone, which demonstrates tangible progress toward reducing pollution flows,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “We look forward to continuing this collaboration and hearing directly from the communities across the watershed.”

“We look forward to working with stakeholders and EPA to address the sanitation problem at San Diego-Tijuana,” said USIBWC Commissioner Dr. Maria-Elena Giner. “I especially value the input of local community members who have firsthand experience with the region’s wastewater challenges.”

The Draft PEIS, which is a required step under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), analyzes the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the proposed set of infrastructure projects, as well as alternatives, on the human, physical, and biological environment. This is an opportunity for the public to give input on the environmental analysis and alternatives within the PEIS, which EPA and USIBWC will consider in any final PEIS.

The Draft PEIS evaluates the option of taking no action, along with two alternative approaches to undertake projects to address water quality in the Tijuana River and adjacent coastal areas. Descriptions of the alternatives evaluated are in the Draft PEIS and on the project website.

EPA and USIBWC have established a 45-day public comment period for the Draft PEIS that concludes on August 1, 2022. EPA and USIBWC will host a virtual public information session the last week of June to share details about the PEIS. Please visit our Tijuana River watershed website for more information about the public information session.

After the public has had more time for review, two virtual public meetings will be held on July 19 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm PDT and on July 20 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm PDT to solicit input on the Draft PEIS. Meeting materials will be presented in a bilingual written format (English and Spanish). Closed captioning (in English) and audio (with simultaneous English/Spanish interpretation services) will be available during the meetings.

Written comments may be submitted until 5:00 pm (PDT) on August 1, 2022, to this e-mail address: Tijuana-Transboundary-EIS@epa.gov.

Comments will help EPA and USIBWC further refine the analysis in the draft PEIS. EPA and USIBWC will then prepare a Final PEIS in November 2022 and will publish a Federal Register notice announcing its public availability.

Once the final PEIS is issued, EPA and USIBWC will sign a Record of Decision. Once signed, the first projects identified in the Comprehensive Infrastructure Solution may begin in early 2023, using the $300 million that Congress appropriated through the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

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