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Fixes Could Finally Be Coming For Mexico’s Cross-Border Sewage Spills

A danger sign at Imperial Beach is shown in this photo, March. 2, 2018.

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: A danger sign at Imperial Beach is shown in this photo, March. 2, 2018.

Local officials plan to huddle over the next few weeks to pick a strategy to control the region’s cross-border pollution problem.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was the first local politician to say he is ready to take action to stop the cross-border pollution flows.

By Reporter Erik Anderson

Sewage tainted water repeatedly crosses the U.S.-Mexico border and fouls south San Diego County ocean waters, but local officials have a reason for optimism.

He told a gathering of stakeholders who met in Coronado that he wants local officials to commit to a solution and to get underway. Faulconer asked that the solution be comprehensive and come with a price tag.

RELATED: San Diego Joins Legal Fight Against Cross-Border Pollution

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region Nine office was there, as were International Boundary and Water Commission officials, state regulators, San Diego County officials, clean water advocates and local office holders.

Since April, more than 110 million gallons of sewage-tainted water has flowed into the Tijuana Estuary in the United States and out to the ocean.

Imperial Beach City Council Member Paloma Aguirre insisted that there have been enough studies and it is time to start fixing the problem.

“The entire Memorial Day weekend (our beach) was closed,” Aguirre said. “In Imperial Beach, we’ve had 48 closure days this year alone. The south end of Imperial Beach has been closed every single day in 2019.”

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

“I’m very encouraged by everyone’s passion. I’m very encouraged that everyone seems to be on the same page,” said Richard Bailey, Coronado Mayor. “The answer to this problem is going to require all of us working together with one voice, working with our federal partners and implementing these solutions that they’ve identified.”

Tijuana’s drainage system is not capable of capturing, holding and treating all of the sewage it generates. The overflow spills into the Tijuana River Valley on the U.S. side of the border before sewage finds its way to the ocean.

Local municipalities, the Port of San Diego, state pollution regulators and clean water groups are suing the federal government in an effort to force federal officials to act on this side of the border.

San Diego News Now podcast branding

The Veterans Health Administration is implementing a major new program Thursday that will allow more veterans to see private doctors outside the system. KPBS takes a look at how the MISSION program will be rolled out here in San Diego.

Plus, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography study has found microplastics far below the ocean’s surface; a cross-border sewage fix may ... Read more →

Aired: June 6, 2019 | Transcript

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Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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