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Water: U.S. Mexico Border Program

U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program Background

During the debate on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the unique environmental conditions and needs existing on the U.S.-Mexico border received significant attention. Both proponents and opponents of the treaty required that the U.S. Administration address these concerns through special environmental side-agreements to be considered in tangent with NAFTA. At that time, it was estimated that $8 billion would be required to address needs for sewage treatment, drinking water, and municipal solid waste infrastructure projects along the border over the next decade and that NAFTA-related industrialization would create additional needs.

As a measure to address environmental concerns in the context of the NAFTA negotiations, the United States and Mexico established the U.S.-Mexico Border Environment Cooperation Agreement, formally executed as the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Mexican States Concerning the Establishment of a Border Environment Cooperation Commission and a North American Development Bank, signed November 16 and 18, 1993 and subsequently amended through Protocol of Amendment signed November 25 and 26, 2002, which entered into effect on August 6, 2004. This international agreement created the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADB), to certify and fund environmental infrastructure projects in border-area communities. In addition, both administrations made commitments to provide funding for infrastructure development in the region. Thus, the U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program was formalized under the management of the EPA.

The U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program provides funding for the development of critical environmental infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border region, defined as 100 km (62 miles) north and 100 km south of the U.S.-Mexico border. Early allocations of the program resources were provided directly to a handful of projects, such as the San Diego International Wastewater Treatment Plant and projects pursuant to Minute 294. The largest allocation of program resources has been utilized to provide funding assistance to communities located in the border region through the Project Development Assistance Program (PDAP) and Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF) administered by the BECC and the NADB respectively.

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