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San Diego Group Using Grant To Reduce Cross Border Pollution

By Ed Joyce
January 14, 2011
A San Diego based environmental group is using a grant from a federal agency to reduce cross-border trash and pollution. The WiLDCOAST project will benefit beaches on either side of the border.
The $50,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant will fund WiLDCOAST's project called Clean Canyon (Cañón Limpio) for 16 months.
Ben McCue with WiLDCOAST said the effort focuses on the Los Laureles Canyon, a sub-basin of the Tijuana River Watershed and drainage area.
"This canyon is literally a stone's throw from the U.S./Mexico border fence," said McCue. "And all of the trash that's not collected in this canyon, with next rain will end up in the Tijuana Estuary and eventually off our border beaches."
Many people living in the canyon, he said, don't have basic municipal services, including trash collection.
"The project will be giving residents tools needed to improve trash management in their community using activities such as workshops, leadership trainings and clean-up events," McCue said. "Reducing pollution includes getting residents to recycle trash and use composting."
McCue said the project will start in February.
He said there is a movement in Tijuana to eliminate illegal settlements that create much of the trash and sewage problems that foul beaches on both sides of the border.
"Until those areas are eliminated or are provided basic services, such as sewage treatment and trash collection services, we're going to continue to feel the effects downstream in San Diego," said McCue. "Everyone recognizes that the city of Tijuana has a lot of work to do to get the city completely plumbed for sewage treatment and set up for trash collection."
McCue said there's always going to be a need for local Tijuana communities to improve trash collection and recycling through their own resources.
"Leadership training on how to mobilize their neighbors to work on innovative composting and recycling projects will clearly benefit the Tijuana Estuary and San Diego beaches," said McCue.
Beach water quality has long been an issue along the U.S.-Mexico border.
McCue said the non-profit WiLDCOAST works with border communities and agencies of both countries to reduce the sources of pollution fouling the region's waterways.
He said the project is part of EPA’s Border 2012 Program, which works to address shared environmental problems across the US-Mexico border.
"All of the border states have cross-border pollution problems," McCue said. "The binational Border 2012 program has work groups in all of the US-Mexico border states."