The North American Development Bank (NADB) and the local water utility, Comisión Estatal de Servicios Públicos de Tijuana (CESPT) have signed a US$2.42 million grant agreement to continue the rehabilitation of a deteriorated section of the collector main “Colector Poniente”, located in the northwestern area of the city of Tijuana, and to help reduce transboundary wastewater flows affecting the Cali-Baja region.
The grant is being provided through the Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF), which is financed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered by NADB. Funding from BEIF is leveraging an important financial contribution from Mexico and the State Water Utility to complete the investment required to implement the project.
The project with a total estimated cost of US$6.46 million and certified by the NADB Board of Directors this past May 30th, will replace a deteriorated section referred to as 1A of the wastewater infrastructure that is prone to leaks and failure.
“NADB has been working closely with CESPT and EPA and other federal agencies in both countries to help resolve untreated wastewater flows affecting Tijuana and San Diego communities,” stated NADB Managing Director Alex Hinojosa. “The grant funding provided by EPA to study and analyze infrastructure options with the goal of preventing transboundary flows also protects shared water sources, as well as the health of residents.”
Also, as part of actions undertaken to prevent wastewater spills, CESPT, along with NADB and EPA, celebrated the conclusion of the first project financed to rehabilitate a section of the “Colector Poniente,” that cost just over US$3.4 million, of which US$1.5 million was supported by BEIF, and consisted of the replacement of 14,774 feet of deteriorated pipeline that runs parallel to the Tijuana River for about 10 miles.
The implementation of both projects will prevent approximately 4.0 million gallons per day (mgd) of untreated wastewater discharges and help improve wastewater collection and conveyance infrastructure for up to 23,506 existing residential wastewater connections, directly benefitting approximately 87,000 residents by helping reduce water pollution and the risk of waterborne diseases, as well as transboundary wastewater flows into the United States.
Parallel to these actions, NADB, EPA, the U.S. Section of International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Diego County, CalEPA, the Colorado River Regional Water Quality Control Board and other regional stakeholders held a meeting for the purpose of reviewing efforts to address transboundary sewage flows in Tijuana and Mexicali along with a discussion on technical and financial solutions.
During the meeting, NADB provided an update on the Tijuana River diversion system study, which concludes that beach closures in the region are more closely correlated to rain events than to diversion system failures; however, the study does identify six top investment options to effectively mitigate dry-weather flows from crossing into the U.S., of which three are located in Mexico and three in the U.S. and range in cost from US$8 million to US$108 million. NADB, in coordination with EPA, also announced the upcoming distribution of the study’s executive summary for comments and informed that the full study will be finalized in the following weeks.
"EPA is deeply committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners, in Mexico and the U.S., towards finding feasible solutions to stem the flow of pollution in the Tijuana River," said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. "The nearly completed Tijuana River diagnostic study will identify the wastewater infrastructure projects needed to improve water quality on both sides of the border. Addressing the transboundary sewage problem along the US-Mexico border will continue to be one of my top personal priorities as the Regional Administrator."
NADB has proactively been working since 2016 with local, state and federal governments to be part of the solution to address the spills of raw wastewater discharges to the Tijuana River. Over the past 25 years, the bank has participated in water and wastewater projects worth close to $142 million in the Tijuana-Rosarito region.