Sustainability

EPA funds border projects, including wastewater

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this month new funding for environmental projects in U.S. and Mexican border communities. Totaling more than $8.6 million, grants are being awarded in conjunction with the San Antonio-based North American Development Bank (NADB) and the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission as part of meeting the goals of the U.S.-Mexico Border 2020 Program.

The largest chunk of money ($5 million) will go the NADB’s Border Infrastructure Fund for wastewater projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. According to the EPA, specific projects will receive funding based on a selection process.

“Water, waste and environmental health concerns cross national boundaries, and environmental solutions benefit communities on both sides of our shared border,” EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said while announcing the new funding. “Border environment projects have already benefited 8 million border residents, providing 63,000 homes with first-time drinking water service and 569,000 homes with first-time wastewater services.”

McCarthy’s remarks came during a visit to the San Diego area last week.

Another significant slice of the EPA funding will pay for upgrading the wastewater treatment plant in Holtville, California. According to the NADB, the $3.56 million in EPA money will contribute to an overall $11 million project designed to improve the quality of wastewater released into local waterways.

“The project will improve the quality of the effluent discharged from the plant in compliance with federal and state requirements for ammonia and other pollutants, thereby contributing to the protection of aquatic ecosystems and helping to improve water quality conditions in the Pear Drain, Alamo River and Salton Sea,” the NADB said in a statement.

Other projects slated for the Border 2020-related funding include $65,000 for cleaning up, restoring and protecting  Mexicali’s New River, which flows north into California ($65,000); $52,500 for collecting and recycling electronic waste in Mexicali; and $49,180 to the California Department of Health for an analysis of environmental health disparities and priorities in the border region.

“The (California) project will include a plan of action to replicate the effort in other parts of the border area and help target future environmental health efforts,” according to EPA.

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