March was an eventful, jam-packed month for No Border Sewage (No BS) policy and agency meetings. As such, this update is lengthy. Review it all on a lazy day after a surf session or take it in pieces, but be sure to educate yourself on all the great work that's happening to address our No Border Sewage issues.
Representatives from the No BS committee attended and participated in four policy or agency meetings over the course of a week in March. There were also additional policy or agency movements and announcements that impact our No BS mission. The work on the border region issues is an all hands on deck mentality. This includes government officials and agencies on both sides of the border, and a diverse group of non-profit organizations and community groups from the San Diego and Tijuana region. While there is much that needs to be done, significant progress was made in March to address the issues that plague our border region's oceans, waves and beaches.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
On Thursday, March 12th, No BS committee members had a two hour meeting with a representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss the EPA's Border 2020 Program. It is the latest environmental program implemented under the 1983 La Paz Agreement. It builds on the Border 2012 Environmental Program, emphasizing regional, bottom-up approaches for decision making, priority setting, and project implementation to address the environmental and public health problems in the border region. As in Border 2012, the new Program encourages meaningful participation from communities and local stakeholders. Click here to learn more about the Program in our border region.
International Boundary and Water Commission Citizens Forum
On Thursday, March 12th, No BS committee members also attended the International Boundary and Water Commission Citizens Forum. The Forum was established in 2002 to facilitate the exchange of information between the United States International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) and members of the public about Commission activities in San Diego County, California. The Citizens Forum is intended to bring together community members enabling the early and continued two-way flow of information, concerns, values, and needs between the USIBWC and the general public, environmentalists, government agencies, municipalities, and other interested parties. Surfrider's current Chair, Mark West, has represented our organization on the Forum for the last few years.
The meeting was very informative and included two major presentations. Chris Helmer, the Environmental Programs Manager for Imperial Beach, presented on their Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP) for the TJ Watershed. This is a result of the MS4 Permit update that we advocated for in 2013. You can view Chris’ presentation here.
The 2nd one was by former State Senator Denise Ducheny, who presented on the accomplishments of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADB). The BECC's mission is to help preserve, protect and enhance the environment and human health of the U.S.-Mexico border region through project certification, technical assistance, and capacity building. The NADB was created by the governments of the U.S. and Mexico in a joint effort to support BECC's mission by providing loan opportunities and administering grants to Mexico. Most recently, on March 30th, the NADB issued a press release reporting that they signed a US $3.0 million grant agreement with Tijuana water utility, Comisión Estatal de Servicios Públicos de Tijuana (CESPT), to partially finance a project for the rehabilitation of sewer mains and residential sewer. The project includes 525 residential connections for the collection and treatment of 90,000 gallons per day of wastewater. The grant funds are being provided by the U.S. EPA through the Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF), which is administered by NADB.
International Boundary and Water Commission
While we're on the topic of the USIBWC, the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) released the IBWC’s Spill and Transboundary Wastewater Flow Event Prevention and Response Plan. The IBWC developed and submitted the Plan as required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the NPDES permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Comments regarding the Plan must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2015. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you like to help with our comment letter.
Tijuana River Valley Recovery Team
On March 16th, the RWQCB Board of Directors meeting was held. There were two items on the agenda that interests our mission, and along with about ten other stakeholders, we presented on those two items. The BOD unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the Tijuana River Valley Recovery Team's (TRVRT) Five-Year Action Plan, which is part of the Recovery Strategy established in 2012 to help clean up the TRV. The BOD also unanimously endorsed a resolution endorsing a request for disbursement from the Cleanup and Abatement fund for 1.5 million for the Action Plan. While this certainly won’t fix the issues we face in the border region, it will have a great impact. Part of the funds will be allocated for non-profits that are hosting cleanups in the TRV. We will request funds to offset our expenses for the cleanups that we host. We will also keep a close eye on the TRVRT’s timelines for measurables as the Plan is executed.
California State Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials
Lastly, the California State Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials meeting was on March 19th at the TJ Estuary Visitor Center. The meeting was focused on the Tijuana River recovery strategy. No BS Committee members were in attendance. The meeting was standing room only and included every stakeholder on the border region issues you can imagine. Man ideas and concerns were discussed. One of the focuses of the meeting was the tire pollution. Check out this article here for more information on that topic.
It's A Wrap!
That's a wrap on No BS policy and agency news. I hope you found the update useful to keep you updated on what's going on in the border region to protect our ocean, waves and beaches. Join us on Tuesday, April 7th, at 6:30pm at the Surfrider office (9883 Pacific Heights Blvd, Ste D) for our next regularly scheduled No BS Committee meeting. Contact email@example.com for more information.