Leaders discuss border infrastructure at AMC Summit

The Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC) brought industry leaders together to discuss cross-border issues, including border infrastructure, at its 60th Anniversary Summit earlier this month.  

The AMC welcomed Jayne Harkins, U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission- U.S. and Mexico, and Renata Manning, director of grant financing of the North American Development Bank, for a border infrastructure panel. 

“The North American Development Bank (NADB) was established in 1994 with a side agreement to NAFTA. And, we were created with a mandate to develop and finance environmental infrastructure all along the U.S.-Mexico border,” Manning said.  

It was established by the U.S. and Mexico to support infrastructure and projects that advance the well-being of the people of both countries. 

In November 2018, the NADB completed a project to improve the Peña Blanca Pump Station in Nogales, AZ. 

According to the NADB, the objective of the project was to “eliminate the risk of untreated or inadequately treated wastewater discharges to Potrero Creek” and “improve the operational efficiency of the wastewater system.” The project benefited more than 1,000 people.  

The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) works to provide solutions to binational issues regarding “boundary demarcation, national ownership of waters, sanitation, water quality, and flood control in the border region,” according to its website. 

Harkins was appointed U.S. commissioner of the IBWC by President Trump last year and is the first woman to hold the position. 

“I joined some great other women who are ‘firsts’ here recently,” Harkins said. 

She explained that the Bureau of Reclamation named its first female commissioner, Brenda Burman, and the Mexican section of the IBWC named its first female principal engineer, Adriana Reséndez. 

In November 2018, the IBWC released the Minute 319 Colorado River Limitrophe and Delta Environmental Flows Monitoring Final Report

It covers the impact of the IBWC’s water delivery to the Colorado River riparian corridor along the U.S.-Mexico border and Delta over a course of five years. 

According to the report, more than 275,000 trees were planted and the year-to-year survival rate increased by 20 percent. 

The findings of the report are intended to help the IBWC effectively deliver environmental water in the future. 

As infrastructure along the border continues to develop, Manning explained that the public-private partnerships play a key role.  

“The [North American Development] Bank has been very successful in working with private sector and public-private sector partnerships,” Manning said.  

She added, “One of those successes, as an example, is the fact that the two governments having invested over $400 million paid in capital to the bank has been translated into more than $2.46 billion in investments in the infrastructure in the border. And, that’s translated into a value of construction of more than $8 billion.”

The panel was held on Thursday, June 27 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. 

Sierra Ciaramella

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