California-Mexico Border Relations Council Meeting
March 27, 2019 | 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board
2375 Northside Drive, Suite 100
San Diego, California 92108-2700
The meeting was called to order at 1:00 p.m. by Chair Jared Blumenfeld.
1. Roll call
The following Councilmembers were present:
• Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), Chair
• Chief April Fernandez, representing Secretary Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS)
• Chief Deputy District Director Gustavo Dallarda, representing Secretary Brian Annis, California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA)
• Undersecretary Tom Gibson, representing Secretary Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA)
• Deputy General Counsel Philip Laird, representing Secretary Alexis Podesta, Business Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH) – by phone
• Assistant Secretary Helen Lopez, representing Director Mark Ghilarducci, California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
• Chief Economic Advisor to Governor Newsom and Director Lenny Mendonsa, California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz)
• Secretary Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) – by phone
• Regional Administrator Mike Stoker, Region 9, United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)
A quorum of the Councilmembers was established.
2. Welcome and Introductions
Chair Blumenfeld provided opening remarks and welcomed the public, Mexican government officials, and distinguished guests. Chair Blumenfeld provided an overview of the agenda, and noted that action items include voting on approval of the July 17, 2018 Council meeting minutes and the California-Mexico Border Relations Council 2018 Annual Report.
Action Item: Draft minutes from the July 17, 2018 Council meeting were reviewed by the Council.
Action Taken: A motion to approve the minutes from the July 31, 2017 Council meeting was made by Chair Blumenfeld and Director Mendonca seconded. All members in attendance were in favor with no nays and no abstentions. Minutes were therefore unanimously approved.
4. California Mexico Border Relations Council Annual Report
Action Item: The California Environmental Protection Agency Border Affairs Program presented the 2018 Annual Report of the California-Mexico Border Relations Council. The report is a collaborative effort between the Council’s Member Agencies to summarize border-related activities conducted by Member Agencies during the prior calendar year of 2018. The program recommended the Council submit the 2018 Council report to the Legislature.
Action Taken: Chair Blumenfeld recommended the Council send the report to the Legislature pursuant to Assembly Bill 3021, Statutes of 2006. Chair Blumenfeld moved, Secretary Ross seconded, and with unanimous “ayes” from the Council, the report was approved to be sent to the Legislature.
5. Update on Food and Agriculture Work at the Border
Informational Item: Councilmember Secretary Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture gave updates on food and agriculture programs in the border region and with Mexico. This included discussion of work with Mexico regarding parasitoids and addressing plant pests of mutual concern.
6. Update on California Emergency Services at the Border
Informational Item: Assistant Director Helen Lopez of Cal OES gave an update on their work with Mexico and in the border region. This included examples of enhanced emergency communication protocols between California and Mexico, and binational collaboration to address wildfires.
7. Update on Business, Consumer Services and Housing Work at the Border
Informational Item: Deputy General Counsel Philip Laird gave an update by phone. He discussed BCSH’s California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council and the grant funding recently disbursed by the Council to border communities.
8. Update on Health in the Border Region
Informational Item: Chief of the Office of Binational Border Health April Fernandez gave a presentation on health projects in the border region, including information on vector-borne diseases at the border.
9. Update on Transportation at the Border
Informational Item: The California Department of Transportation gave a presentation regarding the land ports of entry at the border, an overview of recently-funded projects, the Caltrans QuickMap mobile app that gives border wait time updates, and a video on the Calexico East Port of Entry.
10. Update on Water Issues at the Border
• The Colorado River Basin Water Quality Control Board provided an update on water issues in the Colorado River Basin region, including the status of sewage infrastructure needs in Mexicali, and the Updated New River Strategic Plan, which saw recently completed design and engineering plans for Reach 1 of the New River Improvement Project. Goals of the project include improving public health, transforming the ecology along the river, and strengthening the economy.
• The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board provided an overview of the Tijuana River Valley, including information on the Tijuana River Valley Recovery Team Strategic Plan and efforts, the Minute 320 Binational Core Group activities and working groups, Tijuana wastewater flow impacts on border patrol operations, and San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board regulatory approaches of proposed TMDLs for solid waste and pathogen/bacterial indicators. An overview of Tijuana River litigation was given, including information about three lawsuits filed in 2018.
• The International Boundary and Water Commission US Section (IBWC) reported on work regarding transboundary flows. They are doing a sediment feasibility study in the Tijuana River to help the estuary.
• The California Department of Parks and Recreation provided an update related to Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve projects. Updates given regarding Goat Canyon sediment basins, Monument Road repairs, Nelson Sloan Quarry restoration efforts, a Binational Solid Waste Management workshop, the single-use plastic bag ban in the City of Tijuana, and the Tijuana Estuary Tidal Restoration Program.
Commenters: U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.C. Berkeley Ph.D candidate/researcher; U.C. San Diego; 4 Walls International; Surfrider;
11. Air Quality at the Border
• The California Air Resources Board Assistant presented results on a two-year PM2.5 Air Quality Monitoring Effort in Mexicali and gave an update on the Draft Work Plan to Improve Air Quality in the Border Region. The CARB Board had directed staff to develop a work plan in coordination with the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District (ICAPCD) and appropriate stakeholders in California and Mexico to explore additional measures that could be taken to improve air quality in the border region.
• City of Mexicali Director of Environmental Protection discussed collaborative work with the state of California, including the installation of 50 PurpleAir monitors that can be found on the Redspira website (http://app.respira.org.mx/#z=10&x=-115.9689&y=32.3550). These monitors will be used by the City of Mexicali for enforcement by police, who were trained on air quality enforcement measures.
Commenters: Imperial County Air Pollution Control District
12. Business and Economic Development at the Border
Informational Item: The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development provided an update on cross-border business and economic development as Mexico remains one of California’s top trading partners. Updates included ongoing export promotion through STEP, participation in Select USA, exploring the best way to reopen a trade office in Mexico, a sustainable freight pilot program, and examining ways to improve wait times at border crossings. GO-Biz also continues to work closely with the Mexican Consulate.
Commenters: Senator Denise Ducheny
13. Binational Energy Collaboration
Informational Item: The California Energy Commission provided updates on energy cooperation. This included trade missions, a clean energy workshop, participation in the Under2 coalition, CRE commissioners visiting California, MOU wowrk to share information, academic exchange on energy efficiency and renewable integration, the appointment of Advisor Early to the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, and the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara Energy Efficient Lighting Center updates.
14. Federal Government Border Program Updates
Informational Item: The United States Environmental Protection Agency provided updates on the Border 2020 program and work with Mexico through the North American Development Bank and the Border Water Infrastructure Program. Border 2020 has funded $1.3 million since 2013 through 18 projects. US EPA is changing the division of funding to fifty-fifty between Regions 6 and 9.
15. Baja California Environmental Updates
Informational Item: The Secretariat for Environmental Protection of Baja California presented updates regarding environmental initiatives in Baja California.
16. Update on Community Projects and Binational Coordination at the Border
Informational Item: Comite Civico del Valle Inc. and the Autonomous University of Baja California gave updates on their work in the border region.
17. Future meeting and agenda items
• The Council Chair mentioned possible agenda items for the forthcoming Council meeting to be held in the fall of 2019.
18. Public comment on matters not on the agenda
- Time was provided for members to discuss items not on the agenda.
19. Adjournment at 4:27 p.m.