(Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua) – The Board of Directors of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADB) met today to consider new projects, discuss strategic priorities, review the status of NADB finances and consider a new evaluation process to assess the environmental and health impacts of completed projects. The Board approved the certification of six new projects that together will receive loans and grants totaling US$179.7 million and will benefit approximately 1.9 million residents in various communities in the U.S.-Mexico border region. In addition to their environmental benefits, these infrastructure projects will also help generate economic development and employment on both sides of the border.
The Board commended the BECC General Manager Maria Elena Giner and NADB Managing Directors Gerónimo Gutiérrez for their close collaboration and strong and effective leadership.
The projects certified for financing include a comprehensive paving project to improve urban mobility in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, which will allow the construction or rehabilitation of 15 roadways and six vehicle overpasses. Approximately 1.42 million square meters (m2) of roadway will be paved, helping improve air quality in the region by facilitating traffic flows and reducing travel times through improved road conditions. This public-private partnership project developed under the Chihuahua State Law of Long-Term Public Investment is the first of its kind to be implemented at the local level. Board members welcomed the robust response from the community during the public comment period, which was discussed as well.
The Board also approved two projects in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, consisting of infrastructure works related to the city’s water and wastewater systems, storm drainage and paving and road improvements that will help to reduce water, soil and air pollution. In particular, the paving of 123,955 m2 of dirt roads, rehabilitation and expansion of 332,255 m2 of existing roads is expected to contribute to the reduction of 265.4 metric tons/year of PM10. In addition, an estimated 1,024 households will have access to first-time water service and an estimated 5,116 households will have access to first-time wastewater services. These works also include the replacement of collapsed sewer lines and plans to eliminate untreated wastewater discharges into the Rio Grande River.
Also in Tamaulipas, the Board agreed to certify and finance projects in the cities of Miguel Alemán and Matamoros. The project to rehabilitate the sewer system and build a new lift station in Miguel Alemán will provide first time sewer service to1,888 households, collecting an estimated 399,428 gallons a day of wastewater for treatment. The water and wastewater project in Matamoros includes the construction of a wastewater treatment plant that will increase treatment capacity by 12.33 million gallons per day (MGD) and expansion of the sewer system to provide first-time service to the west and southwest areas of Matamoros.
Finally, the Board of Directors voted to award a grant of $450,000 to Starr County, Texas, to finance part of a solid waste transfer station and to fund reserves for operation and maintenance and for repairs and replacements. The recently constructed transfer station has an estimated operating life of at least 15 years, which will allow Starr County to continue providing safe and reliable sanitation services to local residents in compliance with federal and state regulations for the next 20 years. This the final project to be funded directly under the Solid Waste Environmental Program (SWEP), which has formally been closed.
The Board of Directors welcomed the first selection of finalists under the Community Assistance Program (CAP) program—a grant program launched in 2011 to support public projects in the border’s poorest communities, and look forward to final approval in the coming weeks.
The Board took note of the Bank’s strong finances and welcomed the recent re-affirmation of its AAA rating by Moody’s. The Board also expressed support for BECC’s initiative to measure the environmental and health benefits of completed projects.
The Board also visited a number of ongoing and completed projects in the greater Ciudad Juarez area to see first hand the benefits of NADB and BECC’s investments. Karen Mathiasen, the Director of the Office of Multilateral Development Banks at the U.S. Treasury Department, noted, “The Board held very substantive discussions, underscoring the significant contributions of NADB and BECC to the border region.”
Vanessa Rubio Márquez, Head of the International Affairs Unit of the Mexican Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, as Board co-chair stated that, "Without neglecting the traditional areas of the Bank and Commission’s mandate, Mexico welcomes the opportunity to explore projects in new areas, such as renewable energy and border crossings, as proposed by the management of both institutions, including through innovative investment vehicles that may foster public-private partnerships".
The Board is comprised on the U.S. side of the Department of the Treasury, the Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and on the Mexican side by their counterparts—the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP), the Ministry of Foreign Relations (SRE) and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), as well as by a border state and a border resident representative from each country.
In its 17 years of operation, BECC has certified 200 environmental infrastructure projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. For its part, NADB is providing more than US$1.4 billion in loans and grants to support 155 of those projects, which represents a total investment of approximately US$3.5 billion and will benefit an estimated 14 million border residents.
BECC works to preserve, protect and enhance human health and the environment of the U.S.-Mexico border region, by strengthening cooperation among interested parties and supporting sustainable projects through a transparent binational process in close coordination with NADB, federal, state and local agencies, the private sector and civil society. For more information, visit www.becc.org.