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U.S. - Mexico Border
Field Coordinating Committee

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The DOI U.S.-Mexico Border Field Coordinating Committee (FCC) addresses border natural and cultural resources issues by facilitating communication and coordination among DOI bureaus and consultation with Mexican counterparts.

Pictograph near Amistad Reservoir, TXDesert pupfish

Current Events

Border Region Highlights

 FCC Meeting in El Centro May, 2011


Santa Ana River Watershed Conference, April 25, 2012, San Bernadino, CA

US-Mexico Border 3rd Annual Binational Infectious Disease Conference, May 22-24, 2012, Austin, TX

Border 2012 National Coordinator Meeting, August 1-2, 2012, Tijuana, BC

Border Binational Health Week, October 1-7, 2012

Laredo Environmental Summit, October 18, 2012, Laredo, TX

US-Mexico Border Energy Conference, October 22-24, 2012, Hermosillo, Sonora

Valley Environmental Summit, October 25, 2012, Brownsville, TX

North American Association for Environmental Education, October 25-29, 2012, Albuquerque, NM

Border to Border Transportation Conference, November 13-15, 2012, South Padre, TX

U. S.-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment (TAAP) in Arizona-Sonora

As a result of the United States-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act, the Arizona-Sonora Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program (TAAP) was initiated in 2007 through a partnership between USGS and the University of Arizona.  TAAP began hydrologic characterization, mapping, and modeling of Upper San Pedro and Santa Cruz Aquifers. The San Pedro River flows north from Cananea, Sonora to the Sierra Vista-Fort Huachuca area in Arizona and supports a highly diverse riparian community that is a National Conservation Area on the United States side. The Upper San Pedro Partnership has been given the task by the U.S. government to achieve sustainable yield of the regional aquifer by 2011 (TAAP, 2010). The Santa Cruz River, located in the Ambos Nogales region, begins in Arizona, flows south into Sonora, and then returns northward into Arizona; along the river is the Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant, which produces effluent that dominates water for approximately 20 km downstream (NIWTP, 2005). A particular water management challenge for the Santa Cruz Aquifer is shallow microbasins, mainly located in the most heavily used parts of the aquifer, which experience annual water level changes of up to 15 meters, resulting in limited groundwater storage capacity (TAAP, 2010). Both aquifers are affected by the complexities of climate change and development, as the entire border population is expected to increase 64% between 2000 and 2020 (USEPA, 2003). For the same time period, the population of Santa Cruz County, Arizona is projected to grow by 57% and Nogales, Sonora is estimated to increase by 86% (Peach and Williams, 2000). Scientific research and collaboration with Mexican and binational organizations will continue to ensure sustainable water supply and management for border communities in both countries.

Works Cited

Megdal, Sharon et al. 2010. Institutional Assessment of the Transboundary Santa Cruz and San Pedro Aquifers on the United States-Mexico Border: UNESCO-IAH-UNEP Conference, Paris, 6-8 December 2010. United States-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program.

NIWTP. 2005. Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant (NIWTP). Report on Pretreatment Activities. International Boundary and Water Commission. http://www.ibwc.gov/Files/NIWTP_Pretreatment2006.pdf

Peach, James and James Williams. 2000. “Population and Economic Dynamics on theU.S.-Mexican Border: Past, Present and Future.” In The U.S. Mexican Border Environment: A Road map to a Sustainable 2020, ed. Paul Ganster. SCERP Monograph Seris, No. 1, San Diego: SDSU Press.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 2003. Border 2012: U.S.Mexico Environmental Program. EPA-160-R-03-001

El Centro, CA, May 3-4, 2011  The BLM El Centro Field Office, CA hosted the last FCC meeting on May 3 –4.  Sixty people attended from government, Mexico, tribal communities, and conservation organizations to listen to an expert panel about renewable energy projects as well as other important regional resource and cultural issues.  The participants also had a chance to go out into the desert and see first-hand some of the ambitious plans for power generation and transmission as well as the beauty of the Yuha Desert and the route of the  Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. 

Yuha Desert in Southern California, view of Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail corridor (photograph courtesy of Greg Thompson)

The California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) covers 25 million acres with half of these under the responsibility of the BLM.  Since passage of the national Energy Policy Act in 2005, this area has become ground zero for BLM’s “new energy frontier”.    The established goal is to produce 10,000 MW of non-hydro energy on public lands by 2015.  There are both challenges (e.g., concerns about speculators, endangered species) and opportunities (job creation) associated with this mandate.  Speakers described a range of projects in progress or proposed and the process the BLM requires before construction can begin.  For the El Centro Field Office that manages 1.5 million acres in the CDCA, this new emphasis on renewable energy use of public lands has entailed a shift from traditional land use issues of managing wilderness, recreational, and mineral development.  The Mexican state of Baja California will be an important supplier of energy to the United States through their development of renewable energy in northern Baja and construction of transmission lines to connect to feed into the USA grid.  FWS also plays an important role through the Section 7 consultation process and issuance of Biological Opinions assuring the protection of endangered species and their habitats.

Attendees at the meeting also learned about the structure and purpose of the DOI’s new Southwestern Climate Science Centers.  In partnership with academia, these centers will integrate the disciplines of the physical, biological, and social sciences to synthesize climate change information and make projections based on priorities set by stakeholders.  The FWS is assisting partner organizations in Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve communities in Mexico to preserve the Flat-tail horned lizard at the grassroots level through innovative activities.  Lastly, FCC participants had a unique opportunity to hear USGS geologists explain the landscape-level impacts of the April 4, 2010, El Mayor-Cucopah Earthquake that at M7.2 shook southern California and northwestern Mexico and did extensive damage to agriculture.  One Interesting result of the researcher’s studies showed that the impacts on canals, levees, and irrigation systems were the same as those experienced historically with past earthquakes in this region. 

Participants FCC Field Trip

The biannual FCC meetings provide an opportunity for DOI regional bureaus to exchange information and experiences furthering the DOI’s mission of responsible management of cultural and natural resources in the US – Mexico borderlands.  The next FCC meeting will be held in Silver City, NM November 8-9, 2011.   More information can be obtained by contacting the FCC chairperson, Delfinia Montano, USFWS (505) 248-6401,  delfinia_montano@fws.gov.



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