Sustainable wastewater management for Paso del Norte border communities

Mariana Chew, University of Texas at El Paso


At the binational level, there is no enforceable formal or informal agreement for approval of a water or wastewater discharge from the United States or Mexico. The communities along the U.S.-Mexico border are included in the cooperative activities of: (1) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region VI, (2) Mexico Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), (3) the binational Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and Comisión de Cooperación Ecológica Fronteriza (COCEF), (4) the binational North American Development Bank (NADBANK) and Banco de Desarrollo de América del Norte (BDAN), and (5) the binational International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) and the Comision Internacional de Limites Y Auguas (CILA). Environmental research and development are also actively promoted through the binational Border 2012 and Border 2020 programs. The Rio Grande-Bravo crosses state borders and serves as state and national boundaries along many of its segments, but the Rio Grande-Bravo is the quintessence of societal, agricultural, and industrial life in the Paso del Norte region. Many communities along the U.S.-Mexico border discharge treated (or untreated) wastewater and share surface water resources through the Rio Grande-Bravo. Serious environmental and health risks may result from lack of treatment, monitoring, and enforcement of wastewater discharges. The purpose of this research is to analyze and evaluate the regulatory framework of municipal wastewater treatment discharge in the New Mexico – Texas – Chihuahua region, based on environmental, socio-political, and economic parameters. Results of the analysis and evaluation will be used to provide a basis for stakeholders to promote consensus on binational wastewater regulation. The thesis of this paper is that wastewater treatment discharge should be regulated beyond the environmental parameters already in place and should include socio-political and economic aspects in its regulation. Furthermore, permitting compliance and enforcement should be systematized to ensure sustainable regional wastewater management.

Subject Area

Environmental management|Water Resource Management

Recommended Citation

Chew, Mariana, "Sustainable wastewater management for Paso del Norte border communities" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3512002.