Submission ID: SEM-97-002
Party concerned: Mexico
Date filed: March 15, 1997
Submission Status: Closed
Latest Update: December 11, 2003
The final factual record was publicly released.
Summary of the matter addressed in the submission:
The Submitters allege that wastewater originating in the municipalities of Imuris, Magdalena de Kino, and Santa Ana, located in the Mexican state of Sonora, is being discharged into the Magdalena River without prior treatment. According to the Submitters, the above contravenes Mexican environmental legislation governing the disposal of wastewater.
Summary of the response provided by the Party:
“In view of the facts which form the subject of the submission, two relevant aspects arise: First, that most of the facts argued by the Submitters took place prior to January 1st 1994, the date NAFTA came into force, thus we argue . the legal impossibility for the Hon. Commission to take cognizance of facts which occurred before it came into being. The second … is based on the inadmissibility of the Submission since the Submitters, before having recourse to NAFTA, did not exhaust the legal remedies available under Mexican law.”
The Party states, however, that “[T]he fact that some deficiencies in legal technicalities can be detected in the drafting of the submission should not lead Mexico to disregard the environmental problems which indeed exists in the Magdalena River; nevertheless, it is important to establish that the Mexican Government has not remained indifferent to these environmental disturbances, but on the contrary, in coordination with the State of Sonora and the Municipalities of Imuris, Magdalena de Kino and Santa Ana, has worked to clean up the waters of said River, even though they have had to face problems due to a lack of budgetary resources which has prevented meeting all of the set goals. Currently there . is an Executive Project for the Upgrading and/or Extension of the Sanitary Sewer System and Wastewater Treatment Plants of the Cities of Imuris, Magdalena de Kino and Santa Ana, State of Sonora, which includes planned actions with a total approved budget for the amount of $7,942.7 thousand pesos … [I]n spite of the existence of a generic obligation to treat waste waters emanating from urban centers under both Federal and State law, the economic limitations faced by Mexico still make full enforcement of this provision impossible, although there emerges from the respective governments’ plans a clear strategy of gradual solutions to the wastewater treatment problems at the national level.” The Party’s response includes a “Brief Presentation of the Environmental Problems of the Magdalena River (overview, actions taken by the Mexican Government, citizens’ complaints responded to by the Mexican Government and measures programmed to solve the problem)”.
With regard to the environmental laws invoked by the Submitters, the Party points out that “they do not quote exclusively the Articles which are strictly related to this Submission, but rather make a generic listing of all the provisions that are in any way relevant to water issues .”. Notwithstanding, the Party’s response refers to each one of the many provisions that the Submitter alleges were violated. With regard to the provisions on water pollution control, the Party indicates, for each one of the violations alleged by the Submitters, how the Mexican Government complied with or applied the corresponding provision. With regard to the allegation of the Submitters that there has been a lack of effective enforcement of the right to environmental information, the Party points out that “the Submitter has not requested any information according to the requirements detailed in Article 153 Bis, for which reason it cannot argue that there is an infringement to its detriment of the quoted Articles of the Chapter on the right to environmental information.” Finally, in relation to citizen complaints, the Party indicates that “[T]he Submitter does not specify the facts on which it bases its allegations that there was an infringement to its detriment of the Chapter on Citizen Complaints, for which reason we categorically deny that the Mexican Government has violated the Articles quoted, all the more so because … three citizen complaints filed by the Submitter have been processed.”
Names and citations of the environmental laws in question:
1. Law No. 217 on Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection for the State of Sonora 2. Law No. 38 of waters for the State of Sonora 3. Law No. 109 of health for the State of Sonora 4. General Law on Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection
Comité pro Limpieza del Río Magdalena
The Secretariat received a submission and began a preliminary analysis of it under the guidelines.
Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 15/03/1997
Acknowledgement - Communication to Submitter(s) authored by Secretariat on 23/04/1997
Under guideline 3.10, the Secretariat requested the submitter(s) to correct minor errors of form.
Other Documents - Communication to Submitter(s) authored by Secretariat on 02/06/1997
The Submitters corrected the minor errors of form.
Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 18/07/1997
Other Documents - Other document authored by Secretariat on 18/09/1997
The Secretariat began reviewing the submission under Article 14(1)
The Secretariat determined that the submission met the Article 14(1) criteria and the Secretariat began considering whether to request a response from the concerned government Party.
Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 14 (1) authored by Secretariat on 06/10/1997
The Secretariat determined that the submission met the Article 14(2) criteria and requested a response from the concerned government Party.
Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 14(2) authored by Secretariat on 08/05/1998
The Secretariat received a response from the concerned government Party and began considering whether to recommend a factual record.
Party Response - Response from the Party under Article 14 (3) authored by Mexico on 24/07/1998
Acknowledgement - Other document authored by Secretariat on 12/08/1998
The Secretariat requested additional information from the concerned government Party under Article 21(1)(b).
The Secretariat informed Council that the Secretariat considers that the submission warrants development of a factual record.
Recommendation - Secretariat Notification to Council under Article 15(1) authored by Secretariat on 05/02/2002
The Council voted to instruct the Secretariat to develop a Factual Record.
Resolution - Council decision concerning the development of a Factual Record authored by Council on 07/03/2002
The Secretariat placed a work plan on its web site or otherwise made it available to the public and stakeholders.
Workplan - Overall workplan for Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 22/03/2002
The Secretariat posted a request for information relevant to the factual record on its web site.
Secretariat Information Request - Document related to the preparation of a Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 16/04/2002
The Secretariat submitted a draft factual record to Council, for a 45-day comment period on the accuracy of the draft.
The comment period expired without the Secretariat receiving any comments from the Parties.
The Secretariat submitted a final factual record to Council for Council's vote on whether to make the final factual record publicly available.
Council voted to instruct the Secretariat to make the final factual record publicly available.
Resolution - Council decision on whether the factual record will be made publicly available authored by Council on 05/12/2003
The final factual record was publicly released.
Final Factual Record - Final Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 24/10/2003