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Notice

Implement International Agreement for Deliveries to Tijuana, Baja California, of a Part of Mexico's Colorado River Waters Through the Southern California Aqueducts; Notice of Final Finding of No Significant Impact

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

United States Section, International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico.

ACTION:

Notice of availability of a final Finding of No Significant Impact and a final Environmental Assessment.

SUMMARY:

Based on the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and the comments received, the United States Section (U.S.) finds that the proposed action of implementing an international agreement with the Government of Mexico through the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) to provide emergency deliveries to Tijuana, Baja California, of a part of Mexico's Colorado River water allotment through the Southern California aqueducts, is not a major federal action that would have a significant adverse effect on the quality of the human environment. An environmental impact statement will not be prepared for the project. The final Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and final EA have been forwarded to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and various Federal, State and local agencies and interested parties for information only. No comments are requested. The Notice of Availability of a FONSI is being published in the Federal Register. The documents are on the USIBWC Home Page at http://www.ibwc.state.gov under “What's New” and are at the San Diego Central Library, 820 “E” St.; City of San Diego, Environmental Services Library, Ste. 130, 9601 Ridgehaven Court; Otay Mesa Branch Library, 3003 Start Printed Page 44651Coronado Ave., San Diego; San Ysidro Public Library, 101 West San Ysidro Blvd.; Civic Center Branch Library, Eastlake Public Library, 365 F St., Chula Vista; and San Diego County Libraries at the Casa de Oro Branch, 9628 Campo Road # L, Spring Valley and at 1043 Elkelton Blvd., Spring Valley. A limited number of hard copies are available upon request from Mr. Fox at the above address, e-mail stevefox@ibwc.state.gov or at (915) 832-4736.

The purpose of the proposed action is to arrange emergency deliveries of a portion of Mexico's Colorado River water allocation through the Southern California aqueduct system to the Tijuana water distribution system under the terms of an international agreement. The proposed action would alleviate some of the current water shortage in Tijuana, with a population of about 1.3 million, and conditions that could lead to serious public health and economic problems that may impact inhabitants on both sides of the international boundary.

The emergency water deliveries would be made under the terms of a Minute of the IBWC utilizing the existing facilities in the United States. A minute is an international agreement of the IBWC. The agreement will provide terms and conditions for the emergency deliveries. The IBWC may conclude such agreements under the terms of the United States/Mexico Treaty of 1944 (1944 Water Treaty). The U.S. Commissioner of the IBWC is authorized to arrange such agreements in the United States by the Act of August 19, 1935 (U.S. Congress, 1935) and the American—Mexican Treaty Act of September 13, 1950, (U.S. Congress, 1950).

The alternative is no action. The City of Tijuana is considering improvements to their system. The Southern California agencies that operate and maintain the Southern California aqueducts are willing and able to make deliveries under emergency conditions.

The proposed five year emergency water deliveries would begin during 2002 and would consist of deliveries to Tijuana of a portion of the waters allotted to Mexico under the 1944 Water Treaty. The waters are for use in Tijuana, Baja California. Conveyance will be by means of aqueducts owned and operated by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) and the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA). Emergency water deliveries to Mexico from the Southern California aqueducts will be through pipelines and other facilities, including those belonging to the Otay Water District (OWD), up to a maximum rate of 0.6 m3/sec (14 mgd) during peak demand periods in Tijuana. The delivery to Mexico, based on Mexico's request, not to exceed conveyance system capacity, would use the existing emergency connection located at the international boundary about 6.3 miles (10.1 km) east of the Otay port-of-entry, on Otay Mesa, San Diego, California.

The final conveyance point to Mexico requires use of an existing line to be replaced at Mexico's expense. This line to Mexico requires the replacement of an approximately 80-foot segment of existing 14-inch pipeline that was initially installed as a temporary measure. Up to about 120 feet of deteriorated 24-inch pipeline will also be replaced. Therefore, a maximum of approximately 200 linear feet of pipeline will be replaced, in the area of the OWD meter and in the area between the international boundary fence and the secondary fence, with 24-inch pipeline consistent with the remainder of the OWD pipeline. The project work includes the upgrade in diameter of the 14-inch diameter section of pipeline and the installation of a meter and backflow prevention facility on a small (approximately 1,300 square foot) concrete pad with security fence. All pipeline and backflow prevention construction, as well as completed facilities, will be located within the existing 30-foot wide OWD easement on the site which is accessible by existing roads. This improvement facilitates the City of Tijuana's peak demand of approximately 4.0 m3/sec (91 mgd) by the Comision Estatal de Servicios Publicos de Tijuana's (CESPT) system. The surface area of the above ground structures will be approximately 1,300 ft2 (121 m2) and the area of the temporary land disturbance (i.e., construction) will be about 3,050 ft2 (283 m2).

Under the no action alternative, the City of Tijuana could experience a water supply shortage lasting upwards of several days. There could be the public health risk of illnesses attributed to water shortages which could have an impact on communities on both sides of the international boundary. Under another alternative, not considered in the EA, is that for water supply expansion in the City of Tijuana by Mexico. The responsible agencies in Mexico are evaluating alternative sources of water for the region such that emergency water deliveries would be needed until they can be constructed. Of the alternatives considered, the proposed action is most compatible with the responsibilities and powers of the United States Section, IBWC, in implementing United States/Mexico agreements of the IBWC and does not significantly affect the environmental resources.

The detailed air quality analysis indicated project-related pollutants will be at the threshold for some of the criteria pollutants. The proposed action will be in compliance with San Diego Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Rules and Regulations. The overall air emissions impacts will be consistent with applicable ambient air quality standards. An application was submitted by the OWD to the APCD in May 2000 for a permit to increase operation of the three natural gas engines that will be required to deliver the water to Mexico. The staff plans to purchase specific equipment to continue the District's practice of equipment standardization and to obtain the best, proven engine and air pollution control technology. The APCD adopted revisions to Rule 69.4.1 in November 2000, six months after submittal of the original permit application to APCD. The revisions to APCD Rule 69.4.1 implement more stringent California state-mandated Best Available Retrofit Control Technology (BARCT) requirements to further reduce nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions in San Diego County that will take full effect in 2002. OWD has determined that retrofitting existing engines to meet the new emission guidelines and deliver the water to Mexico will be cost prohibitive; therefore, OWD will purchase new engines with Best Available Control Technology (BACT)[(i.e., with new Caterpillar engines and non-selective catalytic reduction (NSCR) and NOX emissions controls)] that will more reliably and cost-effectively meet these new emission standards. OWD has committed to purchasing equipment that is the best, proven technology for accomplishing OWD purposes that will meet APCD requirements. OWD is currently in the process of purchasing the necessary engines and BACT in order to deliver the water to Mexico; however, due to the timing of the APCD mandate relative to Rule 69.4.1 and the date when water will need to be delivered to Mexico, OWD will be required to obtain a variance from APCD in order to operate the existing engines without BARCT until the new engines with BACT are installed, tested, and permitted. OWD will off-set or otherwise mitigate the emissions allowed during the APCD variance consistent with the terms and conditions of the variance as well as existing APCD rules and regulations. The mitigation is for use of the old Start Printed Page 44652pumps while new pumps are installed, tested and permitted.

Based on the conformity determination made under 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 51.858, the Federal action will be in conformity with the specific requirements and the purposes of the California Ambient Air Quality Standards pursuant to the United States Section's affirmative obligation under Section 176(c) of the Clean Air Act in accordance with the requirements of 40 CFR, Ch. 1, Part 51, Subpart W. The Federal action will be in compliance with the Clean Air Act and California's compliance requirements for air quality resources.

The proposed project complies with all requirements of Federal Statutes, executive orders and other statutes, regulations and applicable permits, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the United States Section's NEPA implementing procedures and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because there will be no significant project impacts. Project coordination on air quality and all other resources, including cultural, biological, and any Federally threatened and endangered species or habitats is being completed by United States Section and SDCWA for NEPA and CEQA compliance.

This final EA, “Implement International Agreement for Deliveries to Tijuana, Baja California, of a Part of Mexico's Colorado River Waters Through the Southern California Aqueducts” documents the assessment of the potential impacts of the proposed action and its alternatives. No significant adverse affects to the resources of the connecting facilities, Otay Mesa, delivery facilities, Colorado River, City of Tijuana, biological, archaeological, historical and other cultural resources, water, air quality, environmental justice, energy, and induced growth are expected by implementing the proposed action.

Based upon the results of the final Environmental Assessment, it has been determined that the proposed action will not have a significant adverse effect on the environment and an Environmental Impact Statement is not warranted.

Start Signature

August 15, 2001.

William A. Wilcox, Jr.

Attorney-Advisor (General).

End Signature End Preamble

[FR Doc. 01-21404 Filed 8-23-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7010-01-P