Centro Frank M. Tejeda / Frank M. Tejeda Center
Frank M. Tejeda Center for Environmental Excellence - Overview
The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) created the Frank M. Tejeda Center for Environmental Excellence
in 1999 to improve the public health and quality of life in U.S.-Mexico border communities. The Tejeda Center does this by enhancing the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of water and wastewater utility operations focusing predominately on economically distressed areas within 100 kilometers of the border.
Today, the Tejeda Center is a program within the Infrastructure Safety and Training Institute’s (ITSI) Water and Environmental Training Program. Day to day operation of the center is conducted by two bilingual project managers, one located in El Paso and the other in Laredo. They are responsible for expanding the focus of the division and center activities to meet the needs of the small communities in providing safe drinking water and proper disposal of their wastewater. The center’s mission is to:
Serve four U.S. states and six Mexican states along the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border, with project managers living and working in the communities they serve.
Provide training and technical assistance to increase the managerial and fiscal capabilities of small communities, helping them to better manage their finances and generate higher revenues. Due to limited resources found in the small communities, the on-site technical assistance visits greatly enhance the understanding of the operations of their systems regardless of their condition.
Act as a conduit to promote the construction and upgrade of needed infrastructure while helping communities to minimize cost overruns and costly project delays.
In addition, the Tejeda Center supports the State Drinking Water Protection Program. This program supports small local and rural communities in the West and South Texas Regions with training and hands-on technical assistance as needed to ensure their systems meet all current rules and regulations.. This year, the East Texas Region is being added to the program’s coverage area. This program provides local training for system operators and maintenance technicians with focus on the configuration of their individual systems. Resources are limited in these small rural communities, so bringing the training and technical assistance to their area is a great benefit to them and often provides the only training opportunity available for their limited staff. Due to current drinking regulatory requirements, small communities need additional training and technical assistance in water sampling techniques and protocols along with the technical skills necessary to ensure their samples are true and accurate. In addition, those operators of systems that blend groundwater and surface waters must ensure chlorine levels are kept at an acceptable level.
Frank M. Tejeda Center for Environmental Excellence - Looking Ahead
The center’s mission is to provide access to grant funds, improve regulatory compliance, decrease operational costs, and mitigate environmental impact. As a part of ITSI’s mission, we seek to expand the value of the center’s program in the border region and throughout Texas by:
- developing a new and robust marketing plan for the center;
- enhancing liaison activities with U. S. Environmental Protection Association (EPA) and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ);
- providing basic water and wastewater classes, to include the required testing (English & Spanish);
- expand training and technical assistance in the East Texas region;
- institute a “circuit rider” program with an eight-hour class to address the implementation of the latest updates to the rules and regulations for management and operations of water and wastewater systems;
- be an active participant/partner in both the Laredo Environmental Summit and the Border 2020 program;
- develop special projects in the small communities in the border area that focus on enhanced technical assistance and training for their water and wastewater systems; and
- work to enhance the coverage of the Drinking Water Protection Program by supporting and participating in the Water Training Expo’s in South Padre Island, Lubbock, San Angelo, College Station, and Lufkin.
Frank M. Tejeda Center for Environmental Excellence - Success Stories