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Cross-Border Dialogue Tackles Cross-Border Pollution Issue

The view from Imperial Beach looking north from SeaCoast drive on a stormy mo...

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: The view from Imperial Beach looking north from SeaCoast drive on a stormy morning April 5, 2019.

California officially opened a dialogue with Mexican officials at a field meeting in Imperial Beach and the first topic of discussion was the region’s cross-border sewage issue.

The California Assembly field hearing in Imperial Beach engaged officials from both sides of the border.

There were California Assembly members, state pollution regulators, Imperial Beach officials, a federal Environmental Protection Agency official, and a Tijuana City Council member.

The group spent several hours speaking frankly about the ongoing cross-border sewage flows that have fouled U.S. coastal waters for decades. The issue came to a head for Imperial Beach politicians in 2017 when 100s of millions of gallons of raw sewage washed into the ocean on rain-swollen flows through the Tijuana River Valley.

The problem has repeatedly forced the county to close Imperial Beach’s ocean waters to human contact for more than half of 2019.

RELATED: San Diego Mayor Plans To Talk About Cross-Border Sewage During Mexico Trip

State Assembly Member Todd Gloria welcomed the discussions as a way to find common solutions to a common problem.

“We want to prioritize this. We want the people of Imperial Beach and Coronado and Tijuana and San Diego to understand that this is a priority and while other leaders may use the border as an opportunity to distract and to divide. We want to use this as an opportunity to convene and to advance,” Gloria said.

The U.S. government is facing three lawsuits asking for solutions to water contamination. Imperial Beach is not the only community affected by the raw sewage flows that reach the ocean.

RELATED: Environmental Group Working To Fix San Diego’s Cross-Border Pollution

There is environmental contamination in Mexico, too.

“We’re the ones being punished by these things not being fixed. We have health issues in Mexico. We have an ocean, sand that is mixed with sludge. We have toxic waste running through the body of the Tijuana River,” said Manny Rodriguez, a Tijuana City Council member.

All those problems require solutions.

There is hope that the next national and state elections in Mexico will lead to change. Rodriquez said the current ruling party is not interested in focusing on existing pollution issues south of the border because they want to invest in a desalination plant.

The focus could change if the Mexican president’s party gets control in the next elections.

Reported by Kris Arciaga

California officially opened a dialogue with Mexican officials at a field meeting in Imperial Beach and the first topic of discussion was the region’s cross-border sewage issue.

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