Border 2020

Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Reduce Air Pollution

Economic and population growth in the U.S.-Mexico border region has had a significant impact on urban and rural air quality. Today, air pollution presents a substantial environmental risk in some border communities that are frequently exposed to elevated concentrations of particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5, ozone, and toxic air pollutants. Emissions from electrical generation and other industrial sources, unpaved roads, diesel trucks, buses and cars, including those idling for long periods of time at ports-of-entry, are significant contributors to poor air quality along the border.

The border region includes a number of cities that share common airsheds; thus, activities in one city can directly affect the other, whether in the same country or across the border. As such, strategies and solutions to address air pollution along the border need to be developed and implemented binationally, with active engagement from the community, as well as local, state, federal, and Tribal authorities.

Objective 1: By 2020, in accordance with the NAFTA, promote the reduction of the number of vehicles operating in the border region that do not comply with the respective vehicle emissions standards, and reduce vehicle emissions at ports-of-entry through anti-idling and other feasible reduction measures.

Objective 2: By 2020, reduce pollutant emissions in order to approach attainment of respective national ambient air quality standards in the following airsheds:

  • San Diego/Tijuana
  • Imperial County/Mexicali
  • Ambos Nogales
  • Paso del Norte (El Paso/Juarez/Sunland Park)

Objective 3: By 2018, maintain effective air monitoring networks and provide real-time access to air quality data in:

  • California/Baja California
  • Arizona/Sonora
  • Paso del Norte Airshed
  • Any additional binational airshed that is designated as non-attainment for U.S. or Mexican air quality standards prior to 2015.

Objective 4: By 2015, support completion of climate action plans in each of the six northern Mexican Border States (as appropriate), and build the necessary capacity to guarantee sustained implementation.

Objective 5: By 2020, reduce emissions and associated impacts through energy efficiency and/or alternative/renewable energy projects. 

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Goal 2: Improve Access to Clean and Safe Water

Watersheds in the U.S.-Mexico border region are shared bi-nationally, with rivers flowing from one country to the other or forming the international boundary.  Protecting and restoring watersheds and water quality in these rivers and providing adequate drinking water and basic sanitation services requires collaborative bi-national, multi-jurisdictional planning efforts. The border region faces significant challenges in shared watersheds that are exacerbated by high population growth rates and impacts from climate change.

The Border 2020 Water Goal builds upon the successes and lessons learned from the Border 2012 Program. Under the Water Goal, the United States and Mexico will work together to address the following challenges:

  • Lack of access to safe drinking water, which poses a significant threat to public health in border communities.
  • Inadequate collection and treatment of wastewater, which contaminates surface waters and aquifers and threatens public health and the environment.
  • Inadequate management of stormwater pollution that contributes significantly to water pollution problems and the potential for floods.
  • Inadequate public access to water quality data, which decreases the public’s ability to know whether a waterbody is safe for recreational use.
  • Impacts of climate change that affect precipitation patterns and duration of droughts, making water availability even more challenging in an already arid region, and making wastewater infrastructure more vulnerable to damage from floods.

Objective 1:Promote the increase in the number of homes connected to safe drinking water and adequate wastewater treatment.

  • Objective 1a: By 2015, promote access to safe drinking water to at least 5,000 households.  Revise target every two years.
  • Objective 1b: By 2015, promote access to adequate wastewater sanitation to 42,000 households..  Revise target every two years.

Objective 2:  Help drinking water and wastewater service providers in the border region to implement sustainable infrastructure practices to reduce operating costs, improve energy efficiency, use water efficiently and adapt to climate change .

  • Objective 2a: Incorporate sustainable infrastructure elements, as feasible and appropriate, into U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program-supported  BECC-certified projects, which are implemented the U.S., and in Mexico through the EPA-CONAGUA Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Joint Grant Contributions for Drinking Water Supply and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects for Communities in the United States – Mexico Border Area
  • Objective 2b: Improve energy efficiency and efficient water use provided by drinking water and wastewater service providers in the border region.
  • Objective 2c: Build operational, managerial and financial capacity through training of drinking water and wastewater service providers in the border region.

Objective 3:  Work bi-nationally to identify and reduce surface water contamination in transboundary waterbodies and watersheds. 

  • Objective 3a: Develop a binational watershed protection plan in the Lower Rio Grande below Falcon International Dam.
  • Objective 3b: Every two years, identify and implement at least one project to reduce the level of heavy metals, sediment, and/or bacteria entering the Santa Cruz River and/or the Nogales Creek.
  • Objective 3c: Every two years, identify and implement at least one project to reduce the levels of bacteria, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), trash, and/or phosphates entering the New River.
  • Objective 3d: Every two years, identify and implement at least one project to reduce the level of bacteria, sediment, and/or trash that enters the Tijuana River.

Objective 4: Provide the public with timely access to water quality data in binational waterbodies and watersheds in a readily understandable, web-based format.

  • Objective 4a:  Develop a binational website that displays timely information on beach advisories on both sides of the border in the Brownsville/Matamoros area, and ensure its operation through 2020.
  • Objective 4b:  Develop a binational website that displays timely information on beach advisories on both sides of the border in the San Diego/Tijuana area, and ensure its operation through 2020.
  • Objective 4c:  Develop a binational website that displays timely information on water quality in high-priority watersheds including the Lower Rio Grande, the New River, and the Tijuana River and ensure its operation through 2020.

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Goal 3: Promote Materials Management and Waste Management and Clean Sites

The border region faces significant challenges that threaten its ability to achieve clean, sustainable communities. Waste management programs and services have not kept pace with border communities’ needs and the current waste management structure is not adequate to meet these increasing needs. It is necessary to collaborate at all levels to ensure that limited resources are applied in a way that limits additional threats of land contamination and prevents adding to legacy land contamination in the region. Increasing trade and manufacturing in the border region has resulted in exponential population growth and these industries should be engaged to ensure that they are an active part of the solution. Future regional success will be defined by those who shift from an end-of-life waste management to a sustainable materials management practice.

Achieving future sustainability requires new solutions that can be explored through better tools such as life cycle analysis. Optimizing material design and packaging, making better use of natural resources, and avoiding waste and toxic materials will result in more sustainable products. Improving collection to recover, reuse, and recycle materials will lessen or eliminate end-of-life discards that end up in landfills or indiscriminately dumped. Addressing these issues is more challenging given that they require a coordinated approach across environmental program sectors, at the multi-government level and the private sector. Over the next eight years and through Biennial Action Plans, the U.S. and Mexico will work collaboratively to address the following challenges:

  • Lack of adequate planning programs in the U.S. and Mexico that establish strategies to minimize waste, maximize collections systems, support secondary materials markets, and reduce overall disposal in landfills and open dumps;
  • Limited knowledge and experience on how to apply a material life cycle approach to existing international policies to implement sustainable materials management programs;
  • The increase in amounts of U.S. and Mexican E-waste, used cars, household appliances, tires and green waste predominantly imported into Mexico combined with inadequate infrastructure and services to manage discarded materials;
  • Trash, especially plastic materials, eventually reaching shared waters contributing to river or marine debris;
  • Lack of conditions favorable to secondary markets for materials, especially when compounded by U.S. sourced used tires, used cars, electronics, and household appliances; and
  • Environmental, social and economic impacts of indiscriminate dumping contaminated sites and high remedial cost.

Objective 1: By 2020, increase local and state-level institutional knowledge and experience in the area of sustainable material management practices.

Objective 2: By 2014, identify priority waste streams and by 2020 develop sustainable material management practices that strengthen their respective market value.

Objective 3: By 2020, improve knowledge at every level of government (federal, state, local) to characterize and remediate contaminated sites. 

Objective 4: On an annual basis, implement the Binational Consultative Mechanism on sharing information on border area hazardous waste facilities.

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Goal 4: Enhance Joint Preparedness for Environmental Response

The 1985 Annex II of the La Paz Agreement establishes cooperative measures for preparing and responding to oil and hazardous substance incidents along the Mexico-United States (U.S.) inland border. The agreement also requires a Joint Contingency Plan (JCP) which was developed in 1988 and signed in 1999. An updated version was finalized and signed in 2008. The Mexico-U.S. JCP has provided the foundation for the 15 Sister Cities Bi-national Emergency Response Plans that have been developed over the last several years. The Emergency Preparedness and Response Policy Fora is co-chaired by U.S. EPA’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Mexico’s Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente (PROFEPA), and Secretaria de Gobernación, Coordinación General de Protección Civil (Mexico’s Office of Civil Protection).

The Joint Response Team (JRT), another La Paz Agreement requirement, is also co-chaired by Mexico’s PROFEPA, Protección Civil, and U.S. EPA’s OEM. Additional JRT partners include representatives from other U.S. and Mexican federal agencies, including state, Tribal and local offices responsible for emergency prevention, preparedness, and response in the border region. The workgroup essentially functions as the steering committee of the Joint Response Team (JRT). The work of the JRT is supported by a notification system for the binational reporting of emergency response incidents, drills, and threats; local Emergency Response Plans developed jointly by sister cities along the border; certified training courses; and analyses of potential risks in the border region.

Both countries have increased coordination with their federal, state and local partners and thanks to this collaboration many of the millions of residents within the border region will benefit from improved training, state-of-the-art equipment, and enhanced emergency response capabilities for both countries. These actions fulfill numerous U.S. and Mexican objectives, the U.S./Mexico Border 2012 Goal 4 to “Enhance Joint Readiness for Environmental Response.” In addition, EPA, PROFEPA and Protección Civil agreed to jointly enhance border notification and agency communication protocols to expand participation of all stakeholders in the Policy Fora and Task Forces.

Objective 1: Update as necessary, the current Mexico-US Joint Contingency Plan and on an annual basis, continue to evaluate and update the emergency notification mechanism between Mexico and the United States.

Objective 2: By 2020, at least eight (8) of the sister city joint contingency plans will be supplemented with preparedness and prevention related activities such as certified training, risk analysis, and/or capacity building.

Objective 3: By 2016, the US-Mexico JRT will make available technical outreach and training materials for distribution and dissemination along the border.

Objective 4: By 2016, the US-Mexico JRT will analyze existing agreements (including sister city plans) that allow trans-boundary movement of equipment and personnel for comparison purposes.

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Goal 5: Enhance Compliance Assurance and Environmental Stewardship

Environmental stewardship compliance assurance and enforcement efforts are essential in any successful environmental regulatory program. Achieving these goals is made more difficult in a transboundary context, such as the U.S.-Mexico border, where laws and requirements may be significantly different and the ability to exercise domestic enforcement authority across a national border is limited. Despite this challenge, both the United States and Mexico share a common goal of ensuring compliance with respective environmental laws at the border. For this reason, policing the movement of waste, and especially hazardous waste, across the border is a high priority for the Border 2020 Program. For instance, it is important for inspectors to understand the patterns of movement of hazardous waste along each side of the border and across the border at the ports of entry, and how that waste is ultimately disposed of or treated, and the Border 2020 Program will seek to promote this important information sharing.

The rapid industrial growth along the border region from maquiladoras, their suppliers, and other industries also presents environmental impact concerns of this growing industrial base, while also providing an opportunity to better engage industry to promote greener business practices. To this end, the United States and Mexico are committed to supporting the development of environmental stewardship recognition programs, where appropriate, and extending them throughout the border region. Additional focus will be placed on public education, outreach, and information dissemination to help citizens and companies better understand and comply with environmental laws and adopt more environmentally friendly practices, including environmental self-audit programs.

Objective 1: By 2020, strengthen effective information sharing between U.S. and Mexican agencies regarding the movement of hazardous waste across the border and its ultimate treatment or disposal. In addition, ensure that land ports-of-entry have sufficient inspection capacity to police hazardous waste shipments.

Objective 2: By 2020, in Mexico, increase by 25 percent the number of businesses in the border region enrolled in the National Program for Environmental Auditing (PNAA) and/or similar programs at the state level for facilities not regulated by the federal government, using 2012 as a baseline.

Objective 3: Using the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) and the Mexican Registry of Emissions and Transfers of Pollutants (RETC), along with other sources of environmental information, share information regarding activities contributing pollution to transboundary air and/or water basins along the border.

Objective 4: By 2020, implement at least five (5) binational workshops targeted to environmental enforcement professionals, including port-of-entry customs professionals, to promote the exchange of information and improve understanding of each country’s respective compliance and enforcement programs and tools, including field inspection and case studies.

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