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On The Environment Beat: Drought, Sewage Spills, Redeveloping In Mission Valley

December 28, 2017 1:13 p.m.

On The Environment Beat: Climate Change, Pollution, Mission Valley's Urban Environment


Erik Anderson, environment reporter, KPBS News

Related Story: On The Environment Beat: Drought, Sewage Spills, Redeveloping In Mission Valley


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh as the year draws to a close we are taking the opportunity to talk with reporters in the KPBS newsroom about the big stories they been covering and 2017. Eric Anderson focuses on stories about the environment. This year that included climate change, pollution and how plans for Mission Valley could change our urban environment. Spoke with Alison St John.
>> Thank you so much for coming in.
>> My pleasure. Calloused -- California's drought ended but what can we expect next year?
>> Environmentally it was a nice big splash of water that California got over last winter and that ended six-year drought, which created its own set of problems but also serve to remind us that sometimes the things that we wish for is not the things that we want. Something that this drought did for California that showed up when they return is it massed that cross-border sewage situation that we have with Mexico with all that water coming across this past winter it brought a lot of sewage.
>> You've done quite a few stories about the Tijuana River Valley in tell us about that.
>> It brought a lot of sewage problems in the U.S. as the sewage flows happened. The people who are most affected folks that live in Imperial Beach and Coronado and other cities were so upset by it but they have decided to sue the federal government to try to get some action to get the situation resolved. Tijuana needs $400 million worth of infrastructure improvements. They need to improve their sewage treatment and that is south of the city. So it takes a lot of resources on that side of the border that are not being spent and a lot of their overflow that the system is not capable of handling is coming into the U.S. The folks that are suing the federal government are hoping that the federal government makes investments necessary to capture and handle that overflow before it gets out to the ocean.
>> Any sense whether they might be less of that problem next year?
>> I think some of it is linked to whether or not we get a lot of rain this winter and at this point it's not looking like that's going to be the case. We know that the system is inadequate and it doesn't work as well as it should and we also know that that problem is not going to go away. I think what the communities are hoping for is the federal government does step in it makes a commitment to clean it up and we will find out how that plays out as the case moves through the court system.
>> Another story you've been spending time on is a Qualcomm Stadium site. What options are on the table?
>> Well, right now were looking at two rival groups that want to redevelop the Mission Valley stadium site where the stadium now sits. On one side you have the investors group who came forward more than a year ago with their idea to redevelop that area with housing, commercial space, River Park, sports stadium all around this concept of luring major league soccer. Send in state University was discussing with them the possibility of being involved in some way shape or form because they need a home for the Aztecs. Those talks broke off last year early in the year and they have put forth their own proposal. It would create more of a campus and less of a entertainment district that has housing and a River Park and sports stadium as well. I think but we will see over the coming year is these two sides making the case for their projects because both will be in front of voters in November and they will have to choose between the two and the measure that gets more than 50% of the vote and has more votes than the other measure will likely prevail.
>> You covered stories that are less conflict filled about the zoo. Tell us about animals that you been looking at.
>> We did a story about rhinoceroses. The zoo has one of the most successful captives breeding process for rhinos in the world. They're trying to breed white rhinos. There's an issue with northern white rhinos that are on the verge of extinction. There are three left a. Part of the effort to revive or recapture some energy for that species before it goes extinct is to develop a breeding program for southern white rhinos that have been brought specifically to the Safari park for this purpose. They want to learn how these animals breed and their cycles and they are in the midst of that research now and trying to figure out if they could artificially inseminate and if they can they would like to be able to put northern white rhino embryo inside the southern white rhino female and kind of kid that species a chance to get its footing on the planet.
>> Now Liverpool's are at risk. Remind us what they are.
>> They are a unique place here in Southern California. They used to be anywhere. It's kind of a wetland. When it rains, there's a puddle and there is all kinds of unique and specialized life that lives and that will. For most it's pretty dry in California and those dry up so all the life that lives there vibrantly when there is water kind of shows up into a little ball and puts it's hardhat on and tries to endure until the next wet spell. The thing about them is that they occur in flat areas which are highly prized by developers because it's easier to build on a flat location. So there's been a great reduction in the number of them. The city of Senegal is working hard on the plan to take into account how vernal pools are manage. There are experts to protect and revive in some spots and protecting others and to be aware that what we as people do does have an impact on the environment as well.
>> Thank you for coming in.
>> My pleasure.
>> That is Eric Anderson.