Volunteers with orange buckets walking up a dirt road past a pile of old tires.

A Cross-Border Collaborative: Marine Debris Solutions Across the U.S. and Mexico

In the Tijuana River Valley, the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association and Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve are repurposing and upcycling debris items to prevent and remove marine debris from the Tijuana River watershed and Pacific Ocean.

Type of Project: North America Marine Debris Prevention and Removal

Region: California

Project Dates: September 2021 - August 2023

Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association and Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve are leading a unique project in the Tijuana River Valley to address cross-border marine debris. Other organizations that will be involved in the project include, Good Neighbor Environmental Board, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Border 2020 and upcoming Border 2025 Program, California-Mexico Border Relations Council, and Tijuana River Valley Recovery Team.

What is the project and why is it important?
On the border between the United States and Mexico, the Tijuana River watershed is made up of large natural and open spaces, as well as urban, residential, commercial, military, and industrial areas. Trash, including food packaging, single-use bottles, and tires, and waste management problems plague the watershed and its surrounding communities. Inconsistent and costly waste removal services, a lack of recycling programs, limited waste infrastructure, and difficult terrain all contribute to this problem. These and other obstacles have resulted in large amounts of waste being dumped into rivers and the Pacific Ocean. This debris can build up, causing floods and negatively impacting the quality of life for all in this cross-border region. 

This collaborative project is using a number of strategies to prevent and remove marine debris. Partners are piloting a community-led circular economy by upcycling and selling items made from marine debris. A cross-border Marine Debris Leadership Academy for local U.S. and Mexican leaders, organizations, and groups is being formed to increase discussions around marine debris solutions. Another project strategy is to improve response and recovery to floods in both the U.S. and Mexico to reduce the impacts of resulting marine debris. Lastly, carrying out cleanups and capturing trash in the Tijuana River will further protect and enhance the local environment. It is the overarching goal of this project that efforts become self-sustaining and elevate community engagement, empowerment, leadership, partnership, and self-sufficiency. 

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.

Last updated Tue, 05/21/2024 - 05:05 pm EDT