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Tijuana River Watershed

Binational Vision Project: Objectives

The stakeholders of the Tijuana River Watershed desire to meet the needs of the present while protecting resources for future generations; to create a balance between natural resource protection, economic development, and quality of life; to proactively manage local surface and groundwater for long-term sustainability; to protect, restore, and connect habitats; to create a strong economic base for sustainable development; and to create human communities that allow people to enjoy the unique cultural and natural landscapes and functions of the watershed.

Water Quantity

  • Map and characterize aquifers
  • Control erosion and manage sedimentation (e.g., bank re-grading and revegetation, channel grade, control structures, riprap)
  • Increase permeability of developed land by redirecting runoff into bioswales and removing unneeded hardscape
  • Preserve open space to improve percolation into the aquifer and to decrease rapid runoff
  • Test the feasibility of recharging the groundwater basin with surface flows
  • Develop detailed water budget and hydrologic model
  • Manage groundwater to prevent future overdraft
  • Develop water source protection measures
  • Utilize neighborhood-based and subwatershed flood detention solutions (i.e., increase groundwater percolation and slowing of surface runoff)
  • Restore floodplain using management practices, such as reforestation, bioengineering, and/or other nonstructural approaches
  • Implement stormwater retention and rainwater harvesting techniques
  • Create demonstration projects (i.e., septic tanks, constructed wetlands, industrial pretreatment systems)
  • Promote comprehensive conservation programs to reduce water consumption
  • Expand flood warning systems

Water Quality

  • Modify the concrete channels and other flood control structures to restore river function
  • Plant native riparian species to filter and slow pollutants
  • Create river parks
  • Create meanders and braiding in floodplain
  • Restore floodplains using existing open spaces and green areas
  • Build weirs and berms to slow transport of pollutants downstream
  • Build erosion-control structures on steep slopes
  • Create holding ponds to filter pollutants and recharge groundwater
  • Enforce the mitigation of hazardous material disposal and industrial discharge
  • Design urban green areas for percolation and filtration purposes
  • Reforest the upper basin to slow runoff and reduce erosion
  • Provide adequate sewage systems for all communities
  • Restrict hillside development to reduce erosion
  • Continue university water quality research projects
  • Expand and coordinate water quality monitoring in streams and test for toxics in the tissues of benthic invertebrates
  • Remove hardscape where possible to allow filtration of storm water
  • Continue to monitor nutrients and biota in Estuary
  • Revegetate steep slopes
  • Implement binational watershed health indicators program
  • Develop integrated water quality water quantity model

Ecosystems and Natural Resources

  • Create legal protection for biological core areas, such as patches of forests, sage scrub, chaparral, riparian, and other vegetation
  • Create a legally protected binational preserve network between existing open spaces, protected areas, and core areas with easements, agricultural preserves, land trusts, research reserves, river parks, and wildlife preserves
  • Continue existing university research on ecosystem functions
  • Begin a program to monitor animal movement and habitat use
  • Restore surface water flow in streams and rivers to improve aquatic habitat
  • Restore wetlands, such as vernal pools, salt marshes, and estuaries
  • Enforce endangered species laws and habitat protection laws
  • Create urban green areas for birds and other wildlife
  • Maintain water and sediment quality that will sustain populations of fish and other wildlife
  • Eradicate and control movement of nonnative species and introduce native species

Solid and Hazardous Waste

  • Educate citizens and businesses on proper waste disposal
  • Enforce industrial waste laws
  • Implement laws to mitigate flow of waste into waterways, including industrial pretreatment programs
  • Create more recycling centers and foster a recycling culture
  • Remove existing waste, and develop strategy for continual monitoring and cleanups
  • Create economic incentives to curb the illegal disposal of hazardous waste
  • Implementation of pollution prevention programs by industry

Air Quality

  • Promote solar and renewable energy
  • Improve public transportation
  • Enforce emissions standards for industry and vehicles
  • Monitor air quality in Mexico and provide public access to data
  • Educate citizens about open burning
  • Research future effects of global warming on the region
  • Decrease health risks from air pollution
  • Decrease environmental impacts from air pollution
  • Conduct transborder air quality modeling and analysis
  • Reduce point-source pollution
  • Reduce mobile sources of air pollution
  • Develop a transborder air basin (Binational Air Quality Alliance [BAQA])
  • Develop emissions-trading mechanisms
  • Coordinate energy planning (Border Energy Forum)
  • Pave roads
  • Obtain formal recognition for the transborder air basin

Socioeconomic Issues

  • Monitor quality of life through indicators
  • Relocate residents from flood zones to safe areas
  • Create flood control structures that also provide recreational opportunities, such as river parks
  • Improve and expand sewage system services
  • Provide public transportation alternatives, bike paths, and improve traffic flow
  • Create trail systems for hiking and horseback riding
  • Create open spaces and green areas within cities and on the outskirts
  • Create green buffers for noise and air pollution, and to decrease urban heat islands
  • Create historical zones, restore historical buildings, and attract tourism
  • Create wilderness preserves for education and recreation
  • Maintain clean beaches and monitor pollution violations upstream
  • Create urban tree-planting programs
  • Provide safe recreational opportunities, open space, wildlife viewing, green areas, tourism opportunities, and clean beaches and rivers
  • Reduce erosion and landslide hazards


The recommendations for meeting the goals identified by stakeholders in the process of developing the Vision are:

  1. Identify important conservation areas for restoration and rehabilitation based on ecosystem function and threats
  2. Increase knowledge of the cultural characteristics of indigenous and other peoples of the watershed
  3. Protect sensitive habitat as well as cultural and historical areas
  4. Market sustainable tourism opportunities
  5. Binational planning for flood hazards
  6. Evaluate and protect groundwater supplies
  7. Develop and implement watershed education programs and products for children and adults
  8. Connect conservation areas across the border
  9. Expand water reuse
  10. Facilitate cross-border vehicular traffic flow and reduce impacts in adjacent communities
  11. Develop an integrated waste management system with recycling components
  12. Develop a binational water quality monitoring system
  13. Develop point and non-point source water pollution prevention programs
  14. Develop mechanisms for transborder watershed management

Last Modified: May 6, 2013

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