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U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3097

U.S.–Mexico Border Environmental Health Initiative

The Border Environmental Health Initiative—Investigating the Transboundary Santa Cruz Watershed

By Laura M. Norman, James Callegary, Charles van Riper III, and Floyd Gray


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In 2004 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) launched the Border Environmental Health Initiative (BEHI), a major project encompassing the entire U.S.–Mexico border region. In 2009, a study of the Santa Cruz River Watershed (SCW), located in the border region of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, was initiated as part of the BEHI. In this borderland region of the desert Southwest, human health and the ecosystems on which humans rely depend critically on limited water resources. Surface water is scarce during much of the year, and groundwater is the primary source for industrial, agricultural, and domestic use.

In order to identify risks to water resources in the SCW, and the potential consequences to riparian ecosystems and ultimately human health, the USGS is using an interdisciplinary and integrative approach that incorporates the expertise of geographers, hydrologists, biologists, and geologists to track organic and inorganic contaminants and their effects from sources to sinks in sediment, water, plants, and animals. Existing groundwater and surface-water models are being used and modified to assess contaminant and sediment transport.

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For additional information:
Contact Information, Western Geographic Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 531
Menlo Park, California 94025

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Suggested citation:

Norman, Laura M., Callegary, James, van Riper, Charles, III, and Gray, Floyd, 2010, The Border Environmental Health Initiative; investigating the transboundary Santa Cruz watershed: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3097, 2 p.

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