U.S. & Mexico Border



This case explores transboundary natural resource and infrastructure planning along the Mexico-US border . Since the 1950’s, the Tijuana River, which runs from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego, California, has been extremely polluted and the source of public health concerns for residents on both sides of the border. Several water treatment plants have been constructed over time, but the source of pollution from Tijuana’s industry and growing residential population (spurred by the rise of maquiladoras and NAFTA policies) has persisted, requiring more preventive measures. Students must take on the role of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) planner and weigh the political, technical, and social implications when choosing a primary stakeholder group to engage in a planning process that, hopefully, will put to rest this decades-long planning dilemma.

Planning Topics

environmental planning, governance, economic development, policy implementation, regional planning, transboundary planning, social justice, community engagement, technocratic planning

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the ways in which cross-border negotiations and differing national regulations affect environmental policies and planning.
  2. Learn about the indirect effect that U.S. economic policies, including NAFTA, have on other countries, ultimately leading to issues that can come back to impact the U.S. (in this case, environmental consequences; in other cases, livelihood dispossession that leads to an inflow of migrants to the U.S., etc.).
  3. Recognize the intersections of politics, economy, and technical expertise as they pertain to solving environmental problems.
  4. Consider the difficulty of prioritizing which stakeholders to include and exclude in the planning process while ensuring that the plan accomplishes the issues you set out to address and is completed in a timely manner.

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Suggested Readings

  1. Herzog, L. (2014). Globalisation, place and twenty-first-century international border regions: An introduction to the special issue. Global Society, 28:4: 391-397. Download the full paper
  2. Jewitt, S. (2011). Geographies of shit: Spatial and temporal variations in attitudes towards human waste. Progress in Human Geography, 35(5): 608-626. Read the abstract
  3. Bach, H. Clausen, T, Trang, D, Emerton, L, Facon, T, Hofer, T, Lazarus, K, Muziol, C, Noble, A, Schill, P, Sisouvanh, A, Wensley, C and L Whiting. (2011). From local watershed management to integrated river basin management at national and transboundary levels. Vientiane, Laos: Mekong River Commission. Download the full paper
  4. Imperial, M. (2005). Using collaboration as a governance strategy: Lessons From Six Watershed Management programs. Administration & Society; 37(3): 281-319. Read the abstract
  5. Vollmer, D and A Grêt-Regamey. (2013). Rivers as Municipal Infrastructure: demand for Environmental Services in Informal Settlements along an Indonesian River. Global Environmental Change, 23(6): 1542-1555. Download the full paper