The Bajagua Project is a proposed secondary waste water treatment plant to be located in Mexico just across the border from the San Diego region. The project, a public-private proposition is to be built and managed by a private company that will charge the United States government under a fee-for-services contract. The estimated profit generated by the project for the 20-year span of the lease is at least $600 million, and possibly up to a billion dollars. The project has been mired in controversy, accusations of corruption and undue political influence, as well as being challenged on the claim that it will solve the persistent and long-standing waste water problems that affect the Tijuana Estuary. Bajagua Project, LLC., the company that has been pushed by politicians for the last decade, was created solely to get the Tijuana plant contract, and federal legislation seems to allow the contract to be let without competitive bid and through sole source. These types of contracts are frequently the result of corruption, and that is the main reason competitive bidding is the mandated method of procurement in the federal government; sole source agreements do not provide the protection to taxpayer dollars that competitive bid contracts do. Sole source contracting invites influence peddling, which is the case with the Bajagua Project. And it has recently been made public that Bajagua had at least two meetings with Vice President Richard Cheney. Communications to Cheney from Bajagua show a fawning obsequiousness and efforts to convince Cheney to use the Office of Vice President to achieve Bajagua goals. Those efforts appear to have bore fruit, since after these meetings strong pressure was placed on the IBWC by the Department of Justice and the Council on Environmental Quality to give Bjagua the contract. All along, politicians and others influenced by money insisted that Bajagua receive the contract.
Some politicians who have aggressively supported Bajagua are Randall “Duke” Cunningham (R-California), Bob Filner (D-California), Brian Bilbray (R-California) and Duncan Hunter (R-California). Filner and Hunter are still members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Cunningham lost his seat in the House after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors for strong-arming Departement of Defense procurement personnel into steering contracts in the direction of the bribing companies. As we document below, Cunningham engaged in similar behavior concerning the Bajagua Project by trying to coerce personnel in the International Boundary and Water Commission into giving Bajagua LLC, the Tijuana project. And Brian Bilbray, just a few months after being voted out of his House seat in 2000, was on the Bajagua payroll as a lobbyist.
There is no evidence that Cunningham, Bilbray or others took bribes to press Bajagua’s agenda, but Representative Filner has taken tens of thousands of dollars from Bajagua principles or their families in campaign contributions. As documented on this site there is clear evidence of undue influence, egregious behavior, violations of law, and the overwhelming stench of corruption. If Bajagua is given the project it will be a travesty for the San Diego region and United States taxpayers. Hundreds of millions of dollars will line the pockets of a few people who have ingratiated themselves to politicians in the U.S. Congress and with the Bush Administration.
This site is sponsored and managed by the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, an organization dedicated to exposing corruption and incompetence that threatens the security and public coffers of the nation. We aim to provide a single, comprehensive site for material concerning the Bajagua Project. This site is just getting started and we will add material regularly, so please visit often.
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
- SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT prepared for the International Boundary and Water Commission. Bajagua was at the time, and still is, purely conceptual, and without substance. The Bajagua Border Environmental Cooperation Commission proposal went nowhere, and Mexico has never backed the project. Filner et al. have pushed and insisted on putting this through every process, wasting nearly 10 years in delays and millions of taxpayer dollars in lawsuits, escalating construction costs, and ongoing ocean pollution. Now we face the immediate prospect of Tijuana reclamation plants coming online and adding to the pollution in the Tijuana River. If Congress, the EPA, the IBWC and the White House had made a good faith effort to solve the pollution problem, rather than being intent on a government give-away to Bajagua, we could have gone a long way toward cleaning up our water. Section 1.6.1 of the SEIS is still true today:
“An alternative considered but eliminated is the reclamation of secondary treated effluent from the SBIWTP for reuse in Mexico for industrial and agricultural purposes. Wastewater reclamation was eliminated from further consideration as an alternative since all such proposals are in preliminary negotiations and because of the provisions outlined in Minute 283 (see Section 18.104.22.168 and Appendix A1).
Although the concept of reclamation was forwarded by the public during the scoping session for the SEIS, the most specific proposal was from a public/private partnership consisting of Agua Clara, LLC, and the State of Baja California, Mexico . . .
- Although an additional water supply source is needed for the City of Tijuana, the Bajagua proposal is currently not endorsed by the Mexican federal government. Mexico wastewater is considered the property of the Mexican federal government. Until EPA and USIBWC are requested by the federal Mexican government to consider this project, this proposal cannot be included as an alternative in the SEIS.”
- ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGY AND SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES IN THE BAJA CALIFORNIA PENINSULA. A nice overview of water issues Mexico in the Tijuana region
- “RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT IN THE COASTAL REGION AT THE UNITED STATES-MEXICO BORDER”, by John H. Minan, 3 San Diego Int’l L.J. 51 (2002)
- PUBLIC LAW 106-457, which authorizes the IBWC to provide for a secondary water treatment plant in Mexico
- WEBSITE of Bajagua Project, LLC
- WEBSITE of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission
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