Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51)
Washington, D.C. (April 29, 2020)– Rep. Vargas (CA-51) released the following statement in response to recent heavy rainstorms leaving several pumps in Tijuana, Baja California inoperable. The pumps, when operable, act as the first line of defense in preventing wastewater flowing into the United States.
“This is a dire situation as the ongoing spills negatively affect the lives and livelihood of communities living in and around the Tijuana River Valley. We need a stronger binational partnership to get closer to solving this decades-old problem.
“I wrote to the Secretary of State, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) requesting information and details on their mitigation strategies to combat the transboundary spills.
“The USIBWC shared technical recommendations with the Mexican Section of the IBWC, which is currently working to take over the operations and maintenance of four pump stations in Tijuana. The USIBWC believes this would assure more consistent operations and maintenance of the facilities.
“In addition, the State Department is working to ensure that Mexico’s federal and local mitigation efforts are consistent with each other on the proposed takeover by the Mexican Section of the IBWC.
“I was also informed that the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana is encouraging the Mexican government to pursue upstream stormwater diversion and infiltration measures to help prevent more inoperable pumps and transboundary flows into the United States during rainy seasons.
“While I appreciate the federal agencies keeping me informed, I urge them to implement their plans as soon as feasibly possible. We need to take meaningful action today, as the on-going cross-border flooding is causing long-term harm to our communities.
“I will continue fighting for federal resources and cooperation, from both sides of the border, which are essential to tackling the ongoing cross-border pollution crisis. As long as this problem exists, ensuring that residents are not exposed to the dangerous sewage flows and wastewater is and will continue to be a priority of mine.”
Vargas represents California’s 51st Congressional District which includes the southern portion of San Diego County, all of Imperial County, and California’s entire U.S.-Mexico border. Vargas was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and is currently serving his fourth term in Congress. He serves on the House Financial Services Committee.