Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has called upon the Trump administration for an increase in funding along the U.S.-Mexico border for additional wastewater and sewage treatment. Feinstein’s request for the additional funding stems from the increase in the number of border agents that were sickened in 2017, the frequent closure of beaches in the southern most portion of the state and the negative potential for wildlife.
In a letter to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, Feinstein states that, “Due to geography and inadequate wastewater infrastructure on the Mexican side of the border, untreated sewage, trash, and sediment routinely flow into U.S. communities. These toxic transboundary flows jeopardize the health of U.S. Border Patrol officers and U.S. residents, require the regular closure of U.S. beaches, and endanger sensitive wildlife habitat.”
The letter further indicates that according to the Border Patrol Union, 80 agents at the Imperial Beach Patrol Station were sickened in 2017from toxic transboundary runoff that Feinstein contends could be addressed through increased resources for the EPA’s U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program. Feinstein’s request is for the inclusion of $20 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program in the President’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget.
The EPA’s U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program funds competitive grants to help finance critical infrastructure projects including the construction of sewage collectors in Mexico to reduce polluted runoff to the U.S., wastewater treatment plants on both sides of the border, and residential and commercial sewer connections on both sides of the border to prevent illegal dumping into rivers and streams. Feinstein states that, “… expanding the EPA’s U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program will not only improve the quality of life for U.S. communities along the border but also improve the safety of U.S. Border Patrol officers and their ability to fully patrol our southern border.”
In closing her letter to Mulvaney Feinstein recalls that President Trump retweeted an August 9, 2017 Fox News article that underscored the threat to U.S. Border Patrol officers posed by the transboundary flows. The president endorsed the consideration of additional funding for the Border Patrol Union during the 2016 election.
The year-round problem of sewage spills from Tijuana – due to its aging infrastructure — stretching from the South Bay up to Coronado, depending on costal currents, has been compounded by last year’s heavy rains.