Detailed Meeting Summary/Minutes Deming 2003
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
GOOD NEIGHBOR ENVIRONMENTAL BOARD
Mimbres Valley Special Events Center
Deming, New Mexico
April 9-10, 2003
Detailed Meeting Summary/Minutes
Table of Contents
|List of Participants||
April 9 Meeting Summary
|Introduction and Greetings||
|Meeting Theme 1: Water Issues in the New Mexico/Chihuahua Border Region|
|The Mimbres Aquifer: An Overview||
|Bellagio Draft Treaty||
|Modeling the Mimbres Aquifer||
|Hydrogeology of the Mimbres Basin||
|Southwest Regional Water Planning||
|Mexico's Comisión Nacional del Agua||
|Public Comment Session||
|Greetings from New Mexico Secretary of Environment||
|Meeting Theme 2: Innovative Environmental Technologies|
|Renewable Energy Development||
|Southwest Desert Sustainability Projects||
|Gila Resources Information Project||
|Good Neighbor Board Member Report-Outs - Part 1||
April 10 Working Session Summary
|Approval of the Minutes of Strategic Planning Session||
|Good Neighbor Board Member and Agency Report-Outs - continued||
|Planning for Seventh Report||
Mimbres Valley Special Events Center, Deming, New Mexico
April 9-10, 2003
Placido dos Santos, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Board Members Present
Larry Allen, Malpai Borderlands Group
Manuel Ayala, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Services
(alternate for Rosendo Trevino)
Karen Chapman, Environmental Defense, Austin, Texas
Gedi Cibas, Border Coordinator, New Mexico Environment Department
William Fry, HEB Grocers
Paul Ganster, Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias, San Diego State University
Valecia Gavin, President, Border Environmental Health Coalition, New Mexico
Thomas Mampilly, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (alternate for Dick Walling)
Jerry Paz, Corporate Vice-President, Molzen-Corbin & Associates, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Ken Ramirez, Bracewell & Patterson law firm, Austin, Texas
Diane Rose, Mayor, Imperial Beach, California
Doug Smith, Sony Electronics
Shannon Sorzano, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Laura Yoshii, EPA Deputy Regional Administrator, Region IX
James Stefanov, International Boundary Water Commission (alternate for Commissioner
Geraldine Brown, OCEM
Oscar Carrillo, EPA Associate Designated Federal Officer
Elaine Koerner, EPA Designated Federal Officer (DFO)
Bill Luthans, Region VI
Carlos Rivera, El Paso Border Office
Nancy Woo, Region IX (alternate for Laura Yoshii)
Lois Williams, OCEM
Tom Bates, City of Deming Special Projects Coordinator, Southwest Regional Water Planning Manager
Harry Browne, Gila Resources Information Project
Mike Cormier, Sol Aqua
Robert Foster, College of Engineering, New Mexico State University
Elaine Hebard, Sabe Este Agua (Water Sages)
Mike Hightower, Sandia National Laboratories
Karen Menetrey, New Mexico Environment Department
Marilyn O'Leary, Utton Transboundary Resources Center, University of New Mexico School of Law
Carlos Rincon, Environmental Defense
Robert Rogers, State Water Manager, New Mexico State Engineer's Office
Julie Shultz-Ward, Executive Director, Southwest Desert Sustainability Project
Brady Allen, Duke Energy, Deming energy facility
Jacob Bassoon, Environmental Director, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, El Paso, Texas
Larry Caldwell, "world citizen," Deming
Ron Curry, New Mexico Secretary of Environment
Dona Irwin, New Mexico State Representative, District 32
Louis Jenkins, Director of Public Works, City of Deming
Joan Kane, U.S. State Department
Fernando Macias, General Manager, Border Environment Cooperation Commission
Mike Matush, Surface Water Quality Bureau
Laura Rivera, Tigua Indian Tribe
Tom Ruiz, New Mexico Border Health Office
Gerald Shultz, retired hydrologist, U.S. Department of the Interior
Arthur Smith, New Mexico State Senate
Ellen Smyth, Director of Solid Waste Authority, Doña Ana County & City of Las Cruces
Ricardo Vazquez, Drinking Water Bureau
Elmer Veeder, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Deming
Tom Wadley, New Mexico State Engineer Department
Sylvia Wagner, International Boundary and Water Commission
Donald Ward, project manager, Southwest Desert
Erin Ward, director of border programs, New Mexico State University
Lloyd Woosley, U.S. Geological Survey (representing John Klein)
Interpreter: Luis Luna, Luna Consulting Agency and New Mexico Department of HealthU.S.
Environmental Protection Agency
Good Neighbor Environmental Board
Mimbres Valley Special Events Center, Deming, New Mexico
Detailed Meeting Summary, April 9-10, 2003
The Good Neighbor Environmental Board (the Board) is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) independent advisory committee. It advises the U.S. President and Congress on good-neighbor practices along the U.S.-Mexico border. The focus is on the environmental infrastructure needs of the U.S. states that are contiguous to Mexico.
The themes for this meeting were water issues in the New Mexico/Chihuahua border region and innovative environmental technologies.
Day 1 - April 9, 2003
Chair Placido dos Santos welcomed those present; thanked Ms. Gavin, Mr. Paz, Mr. Trevino and Dr. Cibas for their role in organizing the meeting; spoke of the work of the EPA's Patrick Whelan, who died during the winter; and introduced Samuel Baca, Mayor of Deming.
Mr. Baca welcomed the board and provided a brief history of Deming. Once a railroad way station, now the nation's largest producer of chili peppers, the city has had two city managers in 49 years and two mayors in 29 years.
Morning Session: Water Issues in the New Mexico/Chihuahua Border Region
Many issues impact the aquifer: quantity of water, demand, future demand, depletion, drought, quality of water, and the transboundary. Agriculture in the Mimbres Basin is a large user of water, as is mining in the Grant County area. Parts of the basin have a lot of naturally occurring arsenic and fluoride. In Columbus, New Mexico, where the population tripled in the past 10 years, the reverse osmosis system to deal with such contaminants uses two gallons of water to clean a gallon of clean water, and the other gallon goes into the wastewater-treatment facility. The new report from the State Engineer says that the water use on the Columbus side may have been so substantial that it has reversed the flow of the aquifer. Some reverse in the flow has been alleged since 1978 in the Harsberger report, which can be found at the IBWC.
Columbus and Palomas, Chihuahua, just over the border, have no real tools to talk about how to manage the resource together. Palomas recently had a well-attended "water festival," but the area lacks resources such as universities and large research institutions.
The way data about the aquifer is used should be reviewed. Maybe the true average precipitation is better represented by the drought of the 1950s than the wet years over the past few decades, and that lower amount of rainfall should be used for planning, as opposed to the average of the past 25 years. On the Mexican side, data is collected a little bit differently, so drawing conclusions is difficult.
Q Ms. Chapman asked what recharges the Mimbres Aquifer.
A Ms. Hebard replied that it is snow at the top of the continental divide.
Shared aquifers provide an opportunity for cooperation, for countries to come together and try to resolve issues. Al Utton, whose goal was to use preventive diplomacy to try to avoid problems, and colleagues drafted this treaty over a period of 10 years and tried not to politicize the document. The agreement can be used for any transboundary aquifer, though it was written with the U.S.-Mexico border in mind. Its main proposition is that unmanaged use of the groundwater and unmonitored development will harm the aquifer. It recognizes the rights of countries to equitable utilization of the water, which inherently carries a duty not to cause harm to a co-basin state. The primary purpose of the treaty, which recognizes that conjunctive management of both surface and groundwater is necessary, is to develop an integrated approach to groundwater on a border region, and to surface water if it is present, and to help enable reasonable and equitable development and management of the groundwater. The treaty proposed the establishment of a bilateral commission and suggests a framework through which the party countries can participate in data collection and joint study of the resource in order to proceed on an objective, scientific basis. It is anticipated that the commission will be staffed with highly technical personnel who could work closely with the staffs and with the respective governments. The commission, which would provide biannual reports to the governments that describe the results of their research and development activities and the state of the aquifer, must also provide a drought management plan and a comprehensive management plan. The commission would have the power to declare conservation areas, though the governments would have an opportunity to object.
Q Mr. Ganster inquired how this might relate to the Mimbres Aquifer.
A Ms. O'Leary answered that she thought it would be applicable.
Q Mr. Paz asked what impact NAFTA has had on the momentum of this.
A Ms. O'Leary stated that she thought there may be a little uncertainty that has to be cleared up.
Q Mr. Stefanov asked what the role of the state resource-management
agencies would be, since they are responsible for managing groundwater
A Ms. O'Leary replied that they would help provide data and recommendations.
A Chair dos Santos added that, while U.S. states do have that management authority, in Mexico it is held by the federal government.
Q Ms. Yoshii inquired about efforts to date to try to apply this treaty,
and what receptivity has there been and what resistance has there been.
A Ms. O'Leary answered that nobody has picked it up and used it, but the ideas are getting out there.
The Mimbres Basin was first managed by the State Engineer in 1931. In the middle 1960s, a downstream senior user sued an upstream junior user, and the court ordered the State Engineer to conduct a hydrographic survey. A special master was appointed, and the rights on the system were adjudicated. In 1993, the adjudication was finalized, recognizing approximately 55,000 acres of irrigation. In the 1970s, the U.S. Geological Survey and State of New Mexico developed a groundwater model to depict groundwater flows. But the transboundary report suggests that a three-dimensional model should be used. We are at a point now where everything has to be reconsidered and looked at from a different viewpoint.
Q Dr. Cibas asked how the differences in understanding the characterization of the size of the aquifer can be resolved, say, between Mexico and the U.S.
A Mr. Rogers replied that Helen Ingram in one of her books states that non-governmental agencies or organizations can best resolve some of these problems.
Q Mr. Ganster asked what sorts of aquifer forecasts can be had 20, 30,
or 50 years down the line.
A Mr. Rogers answered that it depends on where you are in the basin. More studies need to be done. The initial studies by the USGS in the early part of the century were part of settling the West. Obviously, the West has been settled, and we have to gather a lot more data.
Q Chair dos Santos commented that he had not heard mention about riparian
habitats and their dependence on a connection to groundwater.
A Mr. Rogers replied that he did not think there was a lot of riparian area based on the groundwater that has been obliterated, or is gone. He did not think there ever was any; he does not see any signs of it.
A Ms. Hebard offered more background on the animal activity in the area.
Q An audience member asked if the models take into account the significant
downsizing of the Chino mine.
A Mr. Rogers answered no. When the model was established, there was a determination of the uses at that time based on a certain year. But he is not sure that the use of water is going to be decreased in Chino.
Q Mr. Caldwell asked if there is not very little data on the Mimbres
Basin that is valid? Since hydrology is not an exact science, whose data
do you accept?
A Mr. Rogers replied that the USGS data is accepted, since it is a federal agency with (hopefully) universal criteria and standards.
Most of the Mimbres Basin is located in the basin and range of a tectonic province. Faulting created mountains and sub-basins in between the mountains. The basins were then filled in with sediments and some volcanics, and the sediments filled with water, and that is the aquifer system. The naturally occurring groundwater quality in the Mimbres Basin is higher quality in the north (where it is a calcium bicarbonate type of water) and deteriorating to the south (where it is a sodium bicarbonate type of water due to interactions with aquifer sediment). In the south, it exceeds U.S. standards for drinking water for sulfate, chloride, fluoride, arsenic and total dissolved solids. Ninety percent of New Mexico's population relies on groundwater as a drinking water source. And in the Mimbres Basin, that percentage is probably even higher. Groundwater comprises nearly half of all uses in New Mexico. The groundwater quality is locally degraded by human activities. In New Mexico, facilities that degrade groundwater are regulated and monitored by the New Mexico Environment Department; they have to clean it up under an abatement plan. In the state there are 850 discharge permits, about 52 in the Mimbres Basin. The renewal process is every five years and includes a public-notice process. Groundwater in the vicinity of the open-pit copper mines in Grant County is contaminated with a variety of metals and salts and low pH from mine leaching activities and acid rock drainage of storm water. Pump-back systems are in place to capture most of the contaminated groundwater. Groundwater contamination currently is not detected for many agricultural facilities here. There are approximately 23 active leaky underground petroleum storage tank sites and probably hundreds of small septic systems. Illegal dumping has been a problem. Some examples of re-use are: The Deming wastewater treatment plant, which irrigates the golf course, cemetery, and crops, and water to be diverted to the Duke Energy power facility if that becomes active; Duke will recycle water through the plant several times before they discharge it to evaporation ponds. Peaceful Valley Trailer Park irrigates their landscaping.
Q Ms. Chapman inquired as to what kinds of fines have been levied, and what the public perception of the mining industry in New Mexico is as a result of that.
A Ms. Menetrey answered that not many fines have been levied. A lot of the contamination is historic. We started regulating them 25 years ago, and it has been an incremental process. There is a lot of support for the mines because they provide a lot of jobs. And then there are people who are very concerned about the environmental issues, too. The maximum fines for violating the Water Quality Act, and they are permanent, are $15,000 a day. We usually go through a voluntarily compliance process first. A violation has to be egregious before we get to the point of fining somebody.
Q Ms. Gavin asked if all the dairies are spreading it on alfalfa or
A Ms. Menetrey answered no. Some discharge to evaporation ponds. In the eastern part of the state, some do not have enough water rights to farm a crop.
Q Mr. Ganster asked if Ms. Menetry knew of any cooperative programs
on groundwater protection south of the border with the Municipio of Ascencion
or Palomas area.
A Ms. Menetry replied that she did not know.
Q Ms. Rose inquired, in regard to the wastewater treatment plants, how
the treated effluent gets to the aquifer. Is it deliberate by injection
or is it seepage, or what is the process?
A Ms. Menetrey explained that it was a result of leaky lagoons, or land application of wastewater to crops, which allows you to use it beneficially and take up the nitrogen by fertilizing the crops. If crops are over-watered, then nitrogen can also get to groundwater. But we don't have a lot of injection, except for small septic-tank leachfield systems, which are considered underground injection wells.
Q An audience member asked about the Source Water Assessment Program
and its relevance to the border communities, and also transboundary cooperation.
A Ms. Menetrey answered that the Environment Department Drinking Water Bureau got a slow start on completing those source water assessments; they are on a very aggressive pace to catch up.
Several years ago, New Mexico decided that it would allocate funds to
do regional water plans. Once the state designates a regional planning
area, a fiscal agent in that area is designated, and we are to develop
and present them with a plan. The state requires public participation
in the plan, such as steering committees. Our committee consists of representation
from the four counties; the 10 municipalities; the six soil and water
conservation districts; two industries; the two big water users in our
area, Phelps Dodge in Grant County and Duke Energy in the Deming area;
and citizens at large. The committee sent requests for proposals for
an agency to write our water plan; Daniel B. Stephens will complete the
first phase of our plan by October 30, including a groundwater and surface
water inventory. They will give us a projection of future demands and
write a water budget. The rest of the plan will be an analysis of the
advantages and disadvantages of each of these alternatives and a recommendation
which way to go. We will do a final round once the public input can be
incorporated and the final plan has been published, to let the people
know what we are doing. We have a website, read-files in libraries, a
speaker program, and a plan for community-access TV.
Q Mr. Ramirez asked if the water planning process includes funding for the projects that would be contained in the water plan, or if that is a whole separate battle? Is water marketing a concept that is alive and well in New Mexico—basically one entity selling water to another?
A Mr. Bates replied that he thinks the funding is a separate issue.
A Mr. Rogers stated that, yes, water marketing is alive and working very well here.
Q Ms. Chapman asked what kinds of assurances or policies have been built
into the state water plan for protection of environmental flows. Often
the environmental needs, because they have not had a use or an ownership
associated with that use, have really not been taken into account.
A Mr. Bates answered that he does not think anything has really been built in, except to make sure that all stakeholders are represented.
Q Mr. Cibas asked if the shared aquifer with Mexico is being considered.
A Mr. Bates stated that he could not speak for the state, and the state plan is really in its infancy. But the impact on Mexico to the south will be carefully considered. There will be a little bit more money to do some of that coordination.
An audience member commented that this regional study is being driven economically; it is not being driven by social or cultural mores of the people. There are disagreements on this, but there has been very little public involvement in the planning process to date.
The person in charge of border issues in the CNA office is Jose Maria Hinojosa. The CNA is within the Ministry of Environment. The national agency handles all concessions. The Junta Central de Agua oversees and coordinates the municipal water utilities. After a municipality has used water, then water should be sanitized through a sewer treatment—in the case of Mexico borderwide, we actually are lagging very much behind that. Another player is the International Boundary and Water Commission, and the Mexican counterpart, which is CILA in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Public Comment Session
Mr. Matush stated that he would like the group to become a little bit more focused on the recharge. You can model and study an aquifer to death, but it is going to continue to decline. At his office, the Surface Water Quality Bureau, they help administer EPA grant funds in this area to improve watershed health. For example, some grant money is going to reduce woody cover and turn the surface back to grass, to try to capture every raindrop that falls on the ground.
Mr. Caldwell appreciated what the board was doing today, but wished to address transborder cooperation. Until we start treating our neighbors to the south as individuals and humans instead of criminals, we are not going to get very much cross-border cooperation.
Mr. Macias commented, regarding Border Environmental Infrastructure Fund appropriations, that the BEIF funds are primarily designated for water and wastewater projects on both sides of the border. They are the final component that makes nearly every water and wastewater project along the border possible. At the end of last year, Congress reduced funding to $50 million. With much of that already earmarked for existing projects, there is a great need. Over the next year and a half, there is a potential shortfall of $150 million in terms of identified projects. He appealed to the Board to endorse a letter communicating this. The Board is highly respected, and its voice, at this time, is going to be critical.
DFO Koerner pointed out that some of the federal members of the board had issued concerns about being part of this type of letter. The Office of General Counsel tells her that the Board can simply add something that says this letter is written by the non-federal members of the Board.
Q Mr. Caldwell asked what a citizen can do to support the Board's position.
A Mr. Macias instructed him to communicate with his senators and representatives.
At Ms. Hebard's request, Mr. Macias detailed some BECC projects. Ms. Gavin stressed that there is no job creation in a place without water infrastructure.
Greetings from New Mexico Secretary of Environment
New Mexico Secretary of Environment Ron Curry brought greetings from Gov. Bill Richardson, who encourages the Board to act boldly. Mr. Curry also commended the efforts of the Board and praised Border 2012's bottoms-up approach.Day 1 Afternoon Session: Innovative Environmental Technologies
We know how Washington sees the border, as low-income, low-education, high- unemployment, etc. But from the Mexican side, you see jobs, opportunities and higher average income per household. It is very important in planning to think of it as just one region, even though there are multiple jurisdictions. Such was the thinking behind the Paso del Norte Air Quality Task Force. In a similar fashion, the Paso del Norte Water Task Force, as an NGO, is bringing together New Mexico, Texas and Chihuahua.
Q Mr. Caldwell asked if politicians, experts, academics and large user groups got us into "this mess." Why should we trust them, via a task force, to get us out of the mess?
A Mr. Rincon replied that the point is to not exclude anyone.
Q Chair Dos Santos asked if meeting announcements were posted anywhere.
A Mr. Rincon answered that a web page is in progress. There is also the BECC net.
Sandia National Laboratories is a national security laboratory (sandia.gov/water). They are trying to stop or mitigate the conflicts, some of which stem from water as a major limiting economic development factor worldwide, and local border region can be a test bed. We're working on new technologies for water purification; new microsensors to do monitoring easier, quicker, and more cost effectively; dynamic stimulation modeling techniques to allow water supplies to be managed cooperatively; new technologies to identify chemical and biological agents; as well as new desalination technologies. We have activities in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, China, Northeast Asia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, where there are opportunities for cooperation and shared management. The Board might want to follow Senator Bingaman's bill for U.S.-Mexico binational water monitoring and analysis activity.
Q Mr. Ramirez asked how desalinization matches up in the marketplace, by cost. How far along are alternative technologies for brine disposal?
A Mr. Hightower answered that the price of desalinization for most small cities is probably a factor of 2-3 higher than fresh water. It is going to change as we try to improve the research and as the price of fresh water comes up. There are no good brine disposal technologies today.Q Ms. Chapman asked what drives involvement in a particular area. Is it political?
A Mr. Hightower replied that a lot of people at Sandia live in the Estancia Basin. Sandia wanted to find some applications at a more local level, and there was a nice opportunity.
Renewables are clean, they are local, and they create energy security. Along the border, they include wind energy development in Texas (which was kicked off by 1999's Texas Renewable Energy Standard, and which might pay better than cattle for the ranchers whose land is used), phototech development in Chihuahua (using some Sandia research, working with NASA on refrigeration, and powering communication tools in distance education), and desalination in New Mexico, Texas and Chihuahua using solar distillation. EPA granted money to the El Paso Solar Energy Association, and 80 small stills have gone to families in New Mexico and Texas. Through Border Pact, we were allowed to install several in Juárez. It doesn't have any movable parts and can be shipped anywhere via UPS. Through the Solar Energy Association in El Paso, we were also able to do seminars in the colonias to teach people how to build their own.
Our goal is building resource educational centers for vocational education
pertaining to sustainable skills, affordable housing, sustainable industrial
development, and economic development. Education priorities include composite
adobe, affordable housing, renewable energy, gray water, landscaping
and land restoration, passive solar, and biosewage incorporation with
the fuel cell backup. Our definition of sustainability: regionalized
respect for resources, culture and nativism as it applies to all indigenous
life, its meaning and unique productivity. Sustainability conspires against
poverty to create empowerment and self-sufficiency as a byproduct. Teaching
at-risk kids to build homes and communities allows them to have a job
and teach the skills themselves, and to create an income. Also, it is
important to put resources on our ledger as an expense. Once we do that,
we start to recalculate the idea of profit.
Q Mr. Fry asked what the cost is like for composite adobe.
A An audience member replied that the goal is to make that a refined cost per square foot that includes our E right, your gray water systems, and still be at a third of the cost of conventional. If we had to do this in a colonia, we could do it for $5 a square foot.
Gila Resources Information Project is an environmental health organization, tax exempt, based in Silver City, with nearly 400 members. Our primary focus has been on mining; groundwater protection is a primary concern. Our approach has been to combine technical expertise with legal expertise and try to get things done through regulations, regulatory changes, enforcement of regulations and new laws. Electric generation currently consumes 54,000 acre-feet of water per year, and more power plants are planned. Dry-cooling, or air-cooled condensers, use less water. Mexico leads the world in the construction of dry-cooled power plants. When it is very hot and very dry, you can have what is called a fuel penalty, or an efficiency problem with dry cooling. Our recommendations include using brackish water for cooling, retrofitting wet-cooled plants (expensive), expanding the use of renewables, and convincing power plants of the economy of alternative systems.
Q Mr. Caldwell asked if the delay in the Duke Energy plant is because of the bubble bursting in California or their economic woes, or both?
A Mr. Browne answered that they are closely related.
Mr. Ward suggests the Board think more about closed-loop water systems.
Board Member Report-Outs - Part 1
Mr. Mampilly distributed information on children's environmental health for the Board to consider at the working session. Mr. Carrillo reported on a recent children's environmental health fair organized by the Pan American Health Organization.
Mr. Ayala reported that the Natural Resources Conservation Service used to be the Soil Conservation Service. He addressed what he calls "SWAPAA plus H"—soil, water, air, plants, animals, air, and the most important factor, the human factor. They have a homeland-security team, and are still waiting to finalize funding. (Mr. Ganster hoped the binational element would be considered.)
Day 2:April 10, 2003 - Working Session
Approval of the Minutes from the Strategic Planning Session: DFO Koerner suggested proofing the minutes before they are distributed. Chair Dos Santos suggested deleting an unclear sentence. The minutes were approved with amendments.
Board and Agency Report-Outs (continued from Day 1)
Ms. Wagner reported that the United States Section of the IBWC continues to partner with local, state, federal and international agencies to conduct its responsibilities. The U.S. and Mexican governments reached an agreement on the water deficit issues in the Rio Grande in January 2003 that provided for an immediate delivery of 129,000 acre-feet. An additional 55,000 acre-feet were delivered in March 2003. The governments continue to implement the agreements of Minute 308. The U.S. Section's operation maintenance division worked with other groups on Naco/Sonora landfills, including assisting in covering a landfill in order to prevent uncontrolled fires. It continues to work toward secondary treatment, along with its counterpart in Mexico, for wastewater in San Diego area and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant in Nogales, Arizona
Mr. Woolsey stated that the USGS went forward with a funding initiative in ‘04 for human health and plans to work closely with National Institute and Environmental Health Sciences to help them look at geographic, environmental occurrence of contaminants and co-location with disease. (Through the budget negotiations for ‘04, that funding was removed.) The states, and particularly New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman and his staff, are pursuing an initiative for transboundary groundwater delineation and characterization. We need that better understanding of the physical framework, the hydrologic properties, geochemistry, and water quality threats and conditions of transboundary resources, and the research would be conducted in cooperation with Mexico. Congressman Reyes of El Paso established a federal Rio Grande Coordination Committee to improve communication and further collaboration.
Ms. Gavin reported that Senator Bingaman cosponsored the Colonias Gateway Initiative Act, a bipartisan bill to improve the quality of life in colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Dr. Cibas stated that in the legislative session which just ended, a significant item for the border area has to do with the creation of a New Mexico/Chihuahua Commission for International Trade. A number of water-related bills were also passed, including requiring the Energy and Minerals and Natural Resources Department to develop a statewide watershed restoration strategy, which is something that the Board has been in support of for quite a long time.
Ms. Chapman explained that the Texas Center continues to exist with Cyrus Reid as acting director. Former director Mary Kelly is now directing border programs, border and Mexico programs for Environmental Defense.
Mr. Smith reported that Sony is using about 15 to 20 million pounds a year post-consumer plastic that goes back into new products. They are eliminating toxics from their products. Lead will be eliminated by 2005. Sony employees assisted in a binational emergency response training drill at Nuevo Laredo and Laredo.
Mr. Allen said that last week the Malpai Borderlands Group, in cooperation with the Guevara Coalition, had a conference in Tucson: An Invitation to Join the Radical Center. He went to Texas on the shuttle debris recovery effort. EPA was involved because of biohazards.
Ms. Yoshii informed the group that the Border 2012 plan is complete, signed last week in Tijuana. Its funding is $3 million from the Office of International Activities. Richard Green is the new Region VI administrator. There is a lot of interest in the tire-pile situation and emergency-response sister-city planning. Also underway is the Tijuana Master Plan.
Mr. Ganster stated that at the end of April, the Southwest Center for Environmental Research and Policy will hold its annual think tank that it cosponsors with EPA and private-sector organizations. The Committee on Binational Regional Opportunities for the San Diego Association of Governments, which is a regional Council of Governments for San Diego, has an annual San Diego-Tijuana border conference. This year the focus will be on the costs and opportunities of homeland security in the San Diego-Tijuana region.
Ms. Rose said that the group is working on sediment basins, a flood-warning system and testing for pathogens, and working closely with Mexico. Oscar Romo has been hired by the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association.
Mr. Fry said that his group is working on both air emissions and energy consumption. They have gotten permission to convert a truck fleet in Houston to run on liquid natural gas. The Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey has taken the group's standards and created a course for operators of food-producing businesses in Mexico.
Mr. Ramirez stated that, in Texas, there is a growing trend among municipalities to maintain ownership and reuse of effluent, a growing part of the water supply. The San Marcos River Foundation, a grass roots environmental group, filed an application to be appropriated a million acre-feet of water to be left in the basin, to be left in the river for environmental instream flow purposes. It is now in the courthouse on appeal.
Mr. Paz said that a number of the communities that his group works with are beginning vulnerability assessments of their water and wastewater systems. There have been instances in a number of communities when agriculture begins to utilize their wells more predominantly, and the water table drops in a localized area. Other wells could dry up.
Chair dos Santos reported that, in Arizona, they have undertaken preliminary steps for a comprehensive air quality study. They also, thanks to EPA Region IX, are about to deploy a border inspector of hazardous waste shipments along the Arizona/Sonora border. They have a new appointee, Ulrico Izaguirre, the assistant director for community outreach and border projects. They have a newly formed Office of Children's Environmental Health.
Planning Session for Seventh Report
The Board made arrangements for preparing next year's report to Congress, concerning children's environmental health in the border region. The Board decided to restrict "child" to the period from the fetal stage to age 18. Problems mentioned included respiratory illnesses, waste tires, glazed cookware, particulate matter, pesticides, blue-baby syndrome, etc. DFO Koerner's suggestion of looking at airborne, waterborne, waste, and toxic chemicals was adopted. Work groups were assigned in these categories, as well as an "other" category to include, among other topics, environmental education. The waste group will also look at emergency response as it relates to children.
Members of the Board were interviewed by Albuquerque Univision.
DFO Koerner updated the Board on the dissemination plan for the Sixth Report. Board members proposed edits to the 2003 Road Map Revised.
Associate DFO Carrillo and Ms. Chapman updated the Board on communication
with Mexican Consejos in preparation for a future meeting. The EPA approved
travel funds for some Board members to attend Consejo meetings and confirmed
a tele-conference call for July 9th at 2:30pm Eastern Standard Time.
The Board discussed revisions, including updated numbers, to the comment letter on BEIF funding (in the initial stages, it is referred to as the Border Water Infrastructure Fund). Chair Dos Santos suggested the figures be reviewed by the EPA. Mr. Ganster said that it is important to remind Congress and the Administration that BECC and NADBank were created in order to sell NAFTA to border communities and others. Ms. Chapman offered to produce and distribute for review a new draft, which would recuse the Board's federal members.
DFO Koerner discussed the Board's wish for indicators of its effectiveness and asked members to take note when the Board's activities are mentioned in the media and elsewhere. For example, it is cited in the Border 2012 plan. Mr. Fry offered website hits as an indicator and suggested a meeting planning committee do a quick meeting summary for publication. Mr. Ganster said this would give some fast feedback to the host communities.
The meeting adjourned at 11:37 a.m.
After the meeting ended, an optional field trip took place in which participants visited Anthony, New Mexico Women's Inter-cultural Center to see homes built of used tires and a demonstration on solar distillation. They also visited Sunland Park, where they took a tour of homes that incorporated straw bales.
The next meeting will take place in Del Rio, Texas, on July 30-31, 2003.