October 10, 2003

Hands Across the Border Program Protects the California/Baja Environment

CARLSBAD – Leucadia Wastewater District transferred 16 items of surplus wastewater treatment equipment to the State of Baja California Wastewater Utility in Mexicali, Tecate, and Ensenada, providing mutual environmental and health benefits on both sides of the border.

The transferred items included treatment plant equipment, rolling stock and laboratory devices. Among them are mobile generators to be used as backup when electrical power is disrupted, and portable pumps and motors to control and prevent sewage spills.

This specialized equipment, which can no longer be cost-effectively used by Leucadia Wastewater District, will have a renewed usefulness in Baja California, including containing sewer spills that sometimes flow into the New River and, ultimately into California’s Imperial County and the Salton Sea, raising public health and environmental concerns.

Hands Across the Border, (left to right) Efrain Muñoz Martin, Director General, Comision Estatal de Servicios Publicos de Mexicali; Elaine Sullivan, Leucadia Wastewater District (LWD) Board, Vice President; Judy Hanson, President of the Board of Directors, LWD; Pete Silva, member of California State Water Quality Control Board; Jose Angel, Regional Water Quiality Control Board; Michael J. Bardin, General Manager LWD.

In this hands-across-the-border event, the equipment was presented to Ing. Efrain Muñoz Martin, Director General of the Comisión Estatal de Servicios Publicos de Mexicali, at a recent ceremony at the Leucadia Wastewater District office in Carlsbad.

Also attending, were two state officials: Pete Silva, member of the California State Water Resources Control Board and former U.S. Deputy General Manager of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission; and Jose Angel, Division Chief of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Colorado River Basin Region, where pollution abatement is a major issue.

The surplus equipment was from a secondary treatment plant that the Leucadia District is dismantling. California State officials requested that Leucadia transfer surplus equipment from the plant under the provisions of Assembly Bill 2317, which was signed into law in September 25, 2000.

Recognizing the rapid population rise in Baja and the accompanying wastewater infrastructure needs, Assembly Bill 2317 encourages transfer of surplus equipment to Mexican agencies from California. The goal is to improve the environmental and public health of California and Baja California, through reduction of cross-border pollution.

Although the State of California provides no financial assistance, it does facilitate the transfer of surplus equipment to the Mexican agencies, which accept and transport the equipment. The Leucadia District actively pursued participation in this effort, which has drawn praise and appreciation from California and Mexican water quality officials.

“We are pleased to do our part to help the environment on both sides of the border by transferring surplus equipment,” said Leucadia General Manager Michael J. Bardin. “We realize it is a relatively modest gesture of hands-across-the-border goodwill, yet we hope it will encourage other wastewater agencies in California to join us in doing their part to benefit the people of the California, Baja-California border region.”

Leucadia Board President Judy Hanson said she recognizes “the importance of the bi-national environmental protection efforts,” applauds the California Environmental Protection Agency, State Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards for supporting these efforts, and wishes the Mexicali officials well in their use of the equipment.

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