Skip to main content

South Bay Officials, Residents Calls On President To Act On Border Pollution

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.

More than 120 million gallons of sewage-tainted water has flowed into the United States since the beginning of September.

Tijuana's sewage system appears to be incapable of handling the sewage generated in the Mexican city, and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina called the situation unacceptable.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

RELATED: San Diego County Looks To Fix Tijuana River Cross-Border Sewage Flows

Dedina hoped to get the attention of President Donald Trump, who is in San Diego on Wednesday for a fundraiser.

“The president’s budget needs to include money to fix this issue,” Dedina said. “And Mexico needs to step up to the plate and immediately fix all of their broken infrastructure. I just met with the incoming head of the sewer agency last week and he admitted that the entire system is broken. It’s fallen apart. And there’s no one there to fix it. and that’s why we’ve been seeing the consistent spills during dry weather."

Dedina wants the U.S. EPA to spend money to help Mexico fix its sewer system and he said the United States needs to spend money on a better diversion system on this side of the border to capture polluted flows.

More than 2,200 area residents have written letters demanding action from federal, state and local officials.

Beaches near the U.S. Mexico border have been closed since early September because the polluted flows are fouling recreational waters.

It is a personal issue for people living in Imperial Beach.

“We live less than a mile from this beach. This is our beach,” said Bethany Case of the clean water group Surfrider San Diego. “And so, I’m very concerned about my family. We know for a fact that there are children who have been exposed, just environmentally, and by accident, going in the water when its polluted and they now have these autoimmune issues, asthma, and things like that.”

Imperial Beach and several other local municipalities are suing the federal government in an effort to control the contaminated flows.

Transborder pollution from the Tijuana River has contaminated U.S. waters and coastlines for decades, forcing the county to regularly close beach access near the border.

During that time, local and state officials and environmental activists have called for federal assistance to protect the health of the environment and residents near the border.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

More than a dozen community groups are asking the city of San Diego to stop using “smart” streetlights over privacy concerns. The city says, cameras on the lights are only recording images in the public right of way. Plus, a rash of deaths from vaping, including a California man this week, has increased demands from a local nonprofit for its ... Read more →

Aired: September 18, 2019 | Transcript

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.