Warner Pacific College
October 24, 2011
In my opinion environmental regulations such as the Clean Water Act implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency are great strides in the right direction. Based on the reading from our text Withgott, J., & Bennan, S. (2011), the Clean Water Act requires that harmful toxins and bacteria be removed from waste water discharged into U.S. waterways (p.171). Although this may be a great stride, the question is: how can its full potential be realized? If the purpose of the regulation is to regulate resource use or reduce pollution to promote human welfare and/ or protect natural systems, it is crucial that we not only implement rules and guidelines, but also awareness and education so that everyone has knowledge and understanding on what the issues are, how the issues affect humans, animals, natural resources etc., and what we as a community can do to help remedy the issue.
For instance the text reported on the Tijuana River located in Mexico and its subpar sewage system that continues to over flow and as a result continues to pollute and contaminate both Mexico and U.S. waterways. This contamination not only affects nature, but is also has an economic impact. For Mexico and The U.S. additional funds need to be allocated and used to find a long-term solution such as planning and building a larger sewage treatment plant larger than the one built in 1997, to accommodate the rapidly growing population. Also cleanup efforts for this type of project could affect federal and state budgets. Although, attempting to fix the problem may cost money, you cannot put a price on a person’s life and health nor wildlife’s wellbeing, so in my opinion when it comes to the health and wellbeing of humans and wildlife our natural duty should be to eat the cost and fix the problem, if we do not preserve our sustainability, who will? I believe countries need to develop international laws to provide compensation for damage that activities under their control cause to areas beyond their borders. The ability of two countries with different political motivations, values, funding accessibility, and other contributing factors to come together to look after the best interest of people is crucial in setting an example for others to follow. People want to have proof that certain things are successful before trying them. According to ESD Toolkit (2011),” Nations shall cooperate to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystem. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command”. This speaks to taking responsibility for your actions or more so your lack of action as a nation.
As a result of the continual contamination from the Tijuana River water California beaches have suffered severe polluted and unsafe water as well as Mexico. These conditions have caused California officials to take action and close beaches in an effort to protect people from diseases such as salmonella, shigella, fibrial, cholera, hepatitis A, and Malaria caused by the harmful water. Unfortunately, the marine that lives in the water doesn’t receive that privilege and they are forced to deal with the conditions of pollution and contamination that has lead to many of their deaths. As a result of the beach closures, it has had a negative economic impact, because beach closures according to Withgott, J., & Bennan, S. (2011) reduce recreation, tourism, other activity associated with clean coastal areas and ultimately each of the above have a direct affect on incoming revenue. For both Mexico and southern California each year their beaches host over 175 million visitors who spend over $1.5 billion. At this point the pros and cons need to be weighed, because I am quite sure that the reduced revenue puts a strain on the state and city budget which then eventually affects the local business (p.168). It’s a domino effect, and people need to be aware and proactive in all that we do to ensure that people have a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
In conclusion, I understand that what Mexico has failed to do to protect its citizens has now for many years affected U.S. citizens and I believe that Mexico should be held accountable for the pollutions, contaminations, and the costs to fix the problem because they caused it. The ESD toolkit (2011) says, “Nations have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources, but without causing environmental damage beyond their borders”. This statement seems to be the right approach, but at who’s expense?
Although, Mexico needs to take responsibility, I believe that more needs to be done on the United States’ behalf to ensure that safety and wellbeing of all people and wildlife. Regulations may set for guidelines and rules, but what is a rule if there is no consequences and repercussions for not following and adhering to them. Monitoring, enforcing, and continuous evaluation is key in staying current on issues and find ways to fix them, because the EPA implemented the Clean Water Act and for several years Mexico has violated the CWA despite several attempts to put a band aid over and oozing wound. Although, violations continue to occur there has been some progress, Withgott, J., & Bennan, S. (2011) reported that, the House or representatives passed the Tijuana River Valley Estuary and Beach Sewage Cleanup Act in 2000 to authorized the United States to take actions to address comprehensively the treatment of sewage emanating from the Tijuana River area, Mexico, that flows untreated or partially treated into the United States causing significant adverse public health and environmental impacts that(p.170). Also in 2008 advocacy work along the San Diego-Tijuana border led the federal U.S. government to allocate $66 million dollars for sewage treatment plant upgrades. There continue to be efforts, but the efforts fall short of supplying an actual long-term resolution to a long-term problem. Regulations are nothing without effectiveness and efficiency.
Retrieved on October 21, 2011 from, http://www.esdtoolkit.org/discussion/default.htm
Withgott, J., & Bennan, S. (2011). Environment: the science behind the stories (4th ed.). New York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN-13:
Retrieved October 21, 2011 from, http://www1.american.edu/ted/TIJUANA.HTM
Retrieved October 22, 2011 from, http://www.wildcoast.net/who-we-are