The City of Coronado is engaged in an ongoing lobbying effort that began in 2018, to encourage the federal government to address cross-border sewage flows. At the time the City initiated that effort, a number of cities and other government agencies were actively suing the federal government to try to force a resolution to the issue. Coronado chose engagement over litigation and worked closely with the White House, EPA and Congress to seek additional funds for projects that would eliminate sewage flows from Mexico.
In January, 2020, legislation passed as part of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) allocated $300 million to the Tijuana sewage issue. This legislation was in large part made possible by the San Diego Congressional Delegation, at that time made up of senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and representatives Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, Sara Jacobs, Mike Levin and Darrell Issa. Subsequent legislation, annual budgets and the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, allocated an additional $50 million.
On August, 18, 2022, the United States and Mexico signed Minute 328 to the 1944 Treaty on the Utilization of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and the Rio Grande, between the two countries. The Minute is a mutual agreement to implement the treaty in a specific way. Minute 328 commits Mexico to spend $144 million on projects to address cross-border sewage flows.
EPA developed the suite of projects outlined above. EPA estimates the cost of these projects is approximately $600 million. Between commitments from the United States and Mexico, there is $494 million available for project implementation. EPA has stated that they will take a phased approach to project implementation. This will allow the agency to dedicate funds to projects as such funds become available. The San Diego Congressional Delegation is continuing to push for additional funding to complete all of the proposed projects.