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Release Date: 2/10/2000
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded approximately $125,000 in grants to five border communities working to resolve environmental problems along the U.S./Mexico border.  The grants went to those communities whose projects demonstrated sustainable development and whose efforts promote improvements in environmental health, risk reduction, hazardous and solid waste reduction, recycling and water conservation at the local and regional level.  The program strongly encourages partnering with community members, businesses, and government agencies to work cooperatively to identify and develop innovative and effective projects.

     "These projects recognize that community involvement can make a powerful difference in the lives of people," said Felicia Marcus, EPA's regional administrator.  "The recipients are addressing many of the borders' environmental problems through their creativity and teamwork;  and by supporting them, it helps us in our own work to improve the quality of life and the environment along the border."

     The five recipients of the grants are located in the border communities of Arizona and California and include the communities of Yuma, Ambos Nogales, Douglas/Agua Prieta, Ambos Nacos and Mexicali/Calexico, and the Lower Colorado and River Basin Region.
     The city of Yuma: The West Wetlands Bi-National Environmental Enhancement Program will convert a 110-acre site along the south bank of the Colorado River, one mile up river from Algodones, Mexico, as a regional park.  EPA has provided funds for creating a 32- acre wetlands as part of the development.  The project will become the area's largest park and only regional park.  Students of Yuma and Algodones will be the stewards and beneficiaries of the project.

     Ambos Nogales: The  Mariposa Community Health Center's Proyecto M Ambiente will train grass roots environmental educators also known as promotoras to promote clean air, water and proper disposal of solid waste through a pollution prevention program in the Ambos Nogales communities.  As part of their cross-border activities, the promotoras will target maquiladora employees, neighborhoods and local schools.
     Douglas/Agua Prieta, Ambos Nacos/Ambos Nogales: The Border Health Foundation's AGua Para Beber project will train promotoras to teach colonia residents safe practices for storing drinking water.  Colonias are unincorporated areas with no basic infrastructure. The project will be implemented by bi-national partners in the public, non-profit, and government sectors.

     Lower Colorado River Basin Region: The Western Arizona Health Education Center will train promotoras to interview community members to find out about water quality issues.  The Promotoras will also collect water and house dust samples and provide education materials for residents of San Luis and San Luis R.C. on the proper disposal of toxic materials including pesticides.  The project will involve water sampling from randomly selected homes.

     Mexicali/Calexico: The International Sonoran Desert Alliance's Earthship Mexicali Demonstration Project will lead to the construction of an earthship, a habitat design utilizing used tires, bottles and cans as the basic materials.  The project invites the participation of youth and community residents from both sides of the border to attend three workshops that will demonstrate the construction and finishing of a habitat design.  The project is designed to promote a unique type of housing to potential private, city, state and federal developers.

     Candidates for the grants were drawn from U. S. county and city governments, U. S. councils of government, U. S. Indian tribes, U. S. nongovernment organizations, and U. S. Schools and universities.

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