Skip to content Skip to navigation Skip to news

Tijuana River Watershed

Background, Goals, and Accomplishments

EPA and SEMARNAT's Border Program

Following the 1983 La Paz Agreement on Cooperation for the Protection and Improvement of the Environment in the Border Area, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Mexican Partner Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) called noted an addressing border environmental issues, first through binational workgroups then though formal programs, first IBEP (1992), then Border IIX (1996). In 2002, Border 2012 was initiated and replaced by border 2020 in 2012. Goal #1 of Border 2012 was to reduce water contamination and in development of the successor program the watershed approach has figured prominently.

Information on the current Border Program and Border 2020 can be found on the EPA’s website. The materials contained in these sections refer to the Tijuana Binational Vision project and its role as a Border 2012 Taskforce.

Tijuana River Watershed Vision and Border 2012 Background

The Tijuana River Watershed vision project was closely partnered with the Border 2012 taskforce. The Border 2012 Program committed the U.S. and Mexico to continuing to work together on environmental issues along the border for the decade 2002-2012. The program goals and objectives were outlined on the archived Border 2012 website.

Mission Statement

As a result of the partnership among federal, state and local, governments in the United States and Mexico, and with U.S. border tribes, the mission of the Border 2012 program was: To protect the environment and public health in the U.S.-Mexico border region, consistent with the principles of sustainable development. In this program, sustainable development is defined as “conservation-oriented social and economic development that emphasizes the protection and sustainable use of resources, while addressing both current and future needs and present and future impacts of human actions.”

Border 2012 Goals

  • GOAL #1: Reduce Water Contamination
  • GOAL #2: Reduce Air Pollution
  • GOAL #3: Reduce Land Contamination
  • GOAL #4: Improve Environmental Health
  • GOAL #5: Reduce Exposure to Chemicals as a Result of Accidental Chemical Releases and/or Acts ff Terrorism
  • GOAL #6: Improve Environmental Performance Through Compliance, Enforcement, Pollution Prevention and Promotion of Environmental Stewardship

Tijuana River Watershed Task Force Background

To complete the objectives of Goal #1, Reduce Water Contamination, the United States Environmental Protection Agency proposed the formation of three water task forces along the California/Arizona/Sonora/Baja California border, one for eastern Arizona/Sonora/Tribes, one for the Lower Colorado River Basin (four states and tribes) and one for the Tijuana/San Diego watershed area.

Draft Tijuana River Watershed Task Force Mission Statement:

The task force participated in the development of a binational vision, or ideal state, for the Tijuana River Watershed and helped to devise strategies and options for implementing that vision and to meet the goals and objectives of Border 2012.


Members of the Tijuana River Watershed Task Force attended quarterly meetings, helped develop a vision (or ideal state) for the Tijuana River Watershed, and identified ways to implement the vision and the Border 2012 goals and objectives on the ground.

Border 2012 Goals And Objectives Addressed

GOAL #1: Reduce Water Contamination

By 2012, promote a 25 percent increase in the number of homes connected to potable water supply and wastewater collection and treatment systems (EPA 2012).

Results from Accomplishments Report

Under the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Border Environment Infrastructure Fund and with assistance from agencies in the U.S. and Mexico, an estimated 54,000 homes were connected to safe drinking water systems and more than 500,000 homes were connected to wastewater collection and treatment services.

  • By 2012, assess significant shared and transboundary surface waters and achieve a majority of water quality standards currently being exceeded in those waters
  • By 2006, implement a monitoring system for evaluating coastal water quality at the international border beaches. By the end of 2006, establish a 2012 objective toward meeting coastal water quality standards of both countries
  • By 2005, promote the assessment of water system conditions in 10 percent of the existing water systems in the border cities to identify opportunities for improvement in overall water system efficiencies

Accomplishing Our Goals

  • The Task Force met quarterly and was open to the public
  • Communication networks consisted of a website (to be constructed) and e-mail lists
  • Decision-making was by consensus or majority vote
  • Funding for meetings came from the EPA


Mexico and United States Departments of State. 1983. Environmental cooperation agreement between the United States of America and Mexico signed at La Paz August 14, 1983. Washington, D.C., Dept. of State.

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2012. Border 2012 Accomplishments Report.

Last Modified: May 6, 2013

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view, download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer, download word.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer, download excel.
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer, download powerpoint.