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Who is to Blame for Pollution of Tijuana Estuary and Imperial Beach? We have the answer!

Apr 17, 2016 06:52AM ● By Paul Spear

Not too many days go by in Imperial Beach, CA where someone is not complaining about the Pollution in Imperial Beach, the Tijuana River and/or the Estuary and asking who is responsible for not getting the problem solved. We have your answer.

Treaties Between the U.S. and Mexico

(note: the portions of the information below that deals with Imperial Beach's problems are in Bold type)

The Treaty of February 2, 1848 established the United States-Mexico international boundary. The treaty of December 30, 1853 modified the boundary as it exists today.

The Convention of July 29, 1882 established another temporary commission to resurvey and place additional monuments along the western land boundary from El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua to San  Diego,  California/Tijuana, Baja California.

The Convention of November 12, 1884 established the rules for determining the location of the boundary when the meandering rivers transferred tracts of land from one bank of the river to the other.

The Convention of March 1, 1889 established the International Boundary Commission (IBC) to apply the rules in the 1884 Convention and was modified by the Banco Convention of March 20, 1905 to retain the Rio Grande and the Colorado River as the international boundary.

The Convention of May 21, 1906  provides for the distribution between the United States and Mexico of the waters of the Rio Grande in the international reach of the river between the El Paso-Juárez Valley and Fort Quitman, Texas. In the

The Convention of February 1, 1933, the two  governments agreed to jointly construct, operate and maintain, through the IBC, the Rio Grande Rectification Project, which straightened, stabilized and shortened the river boundary in the El Paso - Juárez area.

The Treaty of February 3, 1944.  Water Treaty for the "Utilization of Waters ofSigning of 1944 Treatythe Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande" distributed the waters in the international segment of the Rio Grande from Fort Quitman, Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. This treaty also authorized the two countries to construct operate and maintain dams on the main channel of the Rio Grande. The 1944 treaty also changed the name of the IBC to the International Boundary And Water Commission (IBWC), and in Article 3 the two governments entrusted the IBWC to give preferential attention to the solution of all border sanitation problems.

The International Boundary and Water Commission - Its Mission, Organization and Procedures for Solution of Boundary and Water Problems

Binational Border Water Resource Summit: 2011 | 2012

Established in 1889, the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has responsibility for applying the boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico and settling differences that may arise in their application.  The IBWC is an international body composed of the United States Section and the Mexican Section, each headed by an Engineer-Commissioner appointed by his/her respective president.  Each Section is administered independently of the other.  The United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) is a federal government agency and is headquartered in El Paso, Texas.  The IBWC operates under the foreign policy guidance of the Department of State.  The Mexican Section is under the administrative supervision of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is headquartered in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

The Convention of 1889 creating the International Boundary Commission (IBC), and the 1944 Treaty, which expanded its responsibilities and changed its name to the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), both provide that it shall consist of a United States Section and a Mexican Section.  The 1944 Treaty further provides that it shall in all respects have the status of an international body, that the head of each Section must be an Engineer Commissioner and that wherever Treaty provisions call for joint action or joint agreement by the two Governments such matters shall be handled by or through the Department of State of the United States and the Secretariat of Foreign Relations of Mexico.

If the IBWC cannot solve the problem then it falls directly into their bosses laps.Secretary of State John Kerry - US Department of State and Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (Mexico) Claudia Ruiz Massieu


A big "Thank you" to Linda Heath who did a lot of research into these treaties and brought them to my attention.

Paul Spear, Editor, Dig Imperial Beach (


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