Press Releases

Huge plus up in construction funds for IBWC keeps plans to fix and expand South Bay Plant on track


Washington D.C.  – Today, Representative Scott Peters (CA-50) celebrated the inclusion of $156 million, at his request, for the International Boundary and Water Commission’s (IBWC) construction budget in the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY 24) Appropriations bill that will be voted on tomorrow. The IBWC is the federal agency tasked with operating and maintaining the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has fallen into disrepair and is at the center of the cross-border sewage crisis on the American side of the border. This funding level equals a $103 million increase, nearly triple, over the previous fiscal year and will put the IBWC on track to meet its goal to repair and expand the plant.


“After years of steadfast advocacy from residents, servicemembers, and elected officials at every level, we’ve managed to get a real commitment from Washington to address this crisis,” said Rep. Scott Peters. While this is not a ‘mission accomplished’ moment or the end of my work to ensure these hazardous pollutants no longer endanger San Diegans, this is enough money to keep us on track to break ground this year and proceed toward doubling the plant’s capacity. We will need to secure the remaining funds to realize sewage-free beaches and pollutant-free air, but this victory adds to our momentum. I want to thank and commend Representative Vargas and the San Diego congressional delegation, Senators Padilla and Butler, Governor Newsom, and all of our local partners including Mayors Gloria, Bailey, and Aguirre for their work to end this environmental and public health crisis.”


“For too long, our communities have been plagued by toxic pollution and environmental injustice. This funding is a critical step towards combating harmful pollutants, balancing environmental equity, and ensuring the health and safety of families on both sides of the border,” said Rep. Juan Vargas. “However, our work is far from over. I’ll keep fighting, with my Congressional Delegation colleagues, to address this pollution to restore the health of our communities and our waterways.”


The funding package also includes language Rep. Peters submitted as an amendment to allow other federal agencies and non-federal entities, such as state and local governments and non-profit organizations, to transfer money to the IBWC. Rep. Peters will continue to fight for the remainder of the $310 million total that is needed to fix and expand the plant. This increased funding will make it easier to secure that money in the future as it is easier to maintain the previous year’s funding level than to increase it.



Representative Peters has, for years, worked to address the cross-border pollution that’s fouling San Diego’s coastal waters, including pushing for additional funding to fix and expand the dilapidated South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (SBIWTP). In October, Rep. Peters led a bipartisan letter to the Department of State demanding a full account of how the SBIWTP fell into such a severe state of disrepair. In September, he proposed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill to boost U.S.- Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Grant Program (BWIP) funding. Additionally, he proposed two amendments to the Fiscal Year 2024 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill (SFOPS) to boost annual construction funding to the USIBWC to $100 million. In August, he led two letters to the Office of Management and Budget and to OMB and the State Department, calling for urgent additional funding to confront this crisis. In July, members of the San Diego congressional delegation requested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assist with directing environmental justice funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to help stop the flow of pollutants and urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to tour the broken plant. Earlier in July, they sent a letter to President Biden and submitted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024, calling on the administration to declare this crisis a federal emergency. In June, Rep. Peters led a letter with other members of the San Diego Congressional delegation to the governor of Baja California urging accountability for the Mexican government’s commitments to build wastewater treatment infrastructure. In previous years, Peters along with colleagues, has secured funding, introduced legislationcalled for investigations, and arranged a visit by EPA Administrator Regan in response to the wastewater contamination crisis.