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Mayor Faulconer Urges San Diego To Join Suit Over Cross-Border Sewage

Tijuana River is swollen with rainwater and tainted with sewage on Feb. 27, 2017

Photo by Christopher Maue

Above: Tijuana River is swollen with rainwater and tainted with sewage on Feb. 27, 2017

The city of San Diego is poised to join the legal battle to stop the flow of pollution in waterways at the U.S.-Mexico border.

San Diego officials appear poised to ratchet up pressure on the federal government. The City Council on Tuesday will discuss suing federal officials for failing to stop cross-border sewage flows.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said it’s time to act.

“This problem has been around for far too long and we’ve worked very hard on the diplomatic approach on both sides of the border, and there’s been a lot of progress, but not enough progress,” he said.

Reported by Roland Lizarondo

San Diego’s move comes nearly a year-and-a-half after the cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista, and the Port of San Diego sued over the issue. Since then, the state of California and Surfrider Foundation have also sued.

Vivian Moreno represents the San Diego City Council district that includes the Tijuana River Valley.

“We’re demanding that the federal government do its job,” she said.

Moreno is pushing for the City Council to pursue legal action, because she said the problem became personal for her in 2017.

"Two years ago, I think it was 14 days straight, it was a stench, every single day coming out of my house,” she said. “And I didn’t know what it was until all fingers pointed in one direction. I just think no one should live under those conditions, ever.”

There was a steady flow of water Monday in the Tijuana River even though there hasn’t been measurable rain for at least a week. Imperial Beach City Councilwoman Paloma Aguirre said that likely means a key Mexican pump station was shut down, or a pipe that broke more than a month ago still hasn’t been fixed. She said South Bay residents suffer as a result.

“We literally have had only four days of our beach being open. It has been closed for a long period of time,” Aguirre said. “It was actually closed all the way to Coronado. Right now, the stretch of beach between the border and south of Imperial Beach is currently closed because of all these polluted waters that are flowing right now.”

Local officials said they want the federal officials who run the International Wastewater Treatment plant in the Tijuana River Valley to build the infrastructure needed to capture renegade sewage flows from Mexico and keep pollution from reaching the ocean.

The city of San Diego is poised to join the legal battle to stop the flow of pollution in waterways at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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