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Our Waters Know No Borders

2014 March 5

By Allison Martin

On my recent visit to South Texas with our U.S.-Mexico border water infrastructure program, I met with local residents and learned the challenges they face from failing wastewater treatment systems. One person explained how, during heavy rains, she had to wade through thigh-deep water mixed with sewage in her yard. A mother described her children’s skin and stomach problems due to contact with wastewater.  Another showed me a puddle in her yard. Her son stood a few feet away; he must have been well-instructed that this ever-present puddle above the family’s failing septic system was off limits. But as I eyed the small compound, I had a sinking sense that staying away from the puddle was not eliminating the family’s contact with the wastewater.

Many border communities are economically disadvantaged and can’t bear the financial burden to build or repair their water infrastructure. Failing systems can significantly affect the environment, spilling untreated wastewater into streets, rivers and streams. This can seriously affect community health, increasing the risk of water-borne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid, and gastro-intestinal diseases. Unfortunately, these issues are not isolated. The U.S. and Mexico share many rivers, and sewage discharged into them pollutes our shared water resources.

My trip reemphasized to me the importance of our U.S.-Mexico border water infrastructure program. It funds the planning, design, and construction of high-priority drinking water and wastewater treatment systems in border communities. Meeting with border residents gave me a deeper appreciation for the program’s unique technical assistance component, which helps communities select the type of infrastructure that is right for them. The program also emphasizes community participation, empowering residents to get involved in the process. Most importantly, the projects funded by this program help prevent serious health and environmental problems.

To protect the health and environment of those who call the border home, we have to continue to work collaboratively to treat pollution at the source.  Our U.S.-Mexico border water infrastructure program does just that.

About the author: Allison Martin is an ORISE participant in the Sustainable Communities Branch of EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management. Allison supports the U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program, Clean Water Indian Set-Aside Program, and Decentralized Program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. steve permalink
    March 5, 2014

    I think it is time govt come to the aid of these people that are having problem with sewage and their water source.

    Best regards,

  2. Arman.- permalink
    March 5, 2014

    Yes, The Water Is Unifying Forces…………….!!!

  3. chaouki ahmed amine permalink
    March 15, 2014

    I think it is time govt come to the aid of these people that are having problem with sewage and their water source.

  4. Enviro Equipment Blog permalink
    March 18, 2014

    Every American should be proud of how our country is providing financial as well as technical know-how to help communities along the US-Mexico border as witnessed last month (February) when the EPA awarded $720,000 to projects aimed at improving the environment in and around border towns. If memory serves me right, the majority of this money went to Mexican towns for such things as recycling programs and better waste collection.

  5. huseyin aytekin permalink
    March 19, 2014

    Your web page is wonderfull, thanx yo all your webworkers

  6. Kim permalink
    March 19, 2014

    I think its very disturbing that our next generation cant enjoy mother earth as we have done. But we have destroyed the the planet as it looks now, and wtihin 100-200 its not possible to live on it anymore because of several things as polution and population increasing :(

  7. Boris Gutierrez permalink
    March 19, 2014

    Where is the conversation on desalination as a solution to our water crisis in California?

    Boris

  8. Jhon permalink
    March 20, 2014

    Thanks for sharing. Sound good.

  9. Factor Quema Grasa PDF permalink
    March 23, 2014

    If memory serves me right, the majority of this money went to Mexican towns for such things as recycling programs and better waste collection.

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