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As Tijuana Sewage Pollutes South San Diego Beaches, County Asks For Federal Help

Protesters express their dismay at the massive ongoing flows of sewage-tainted water crossing the international border into the United States on Apr. 28, 2020.
Erik Anderson
Protesters express their dismay at the massive ongoing flows of sewage-tainted water crossing the international border into the United States on Apr. 28, 2020.

South San Diego County’s ocean waters are awash in sewage-tainted runoff coming across the border and local and state officials want action to stop the polluted flows.

Sixty million gallons of sewage-tainted water flows into the U.S. every day.

“The entire sewer system of Tijuana has collapsed,” said Serge Dedina, Imperial Beach mayor. “And it appears there is absolutely no effort underway in Mexico, on the part of the U..S federal government, the Trump administration, to actually move forward and ask for emergency repairs so that we don’t endure an entire summer of polluted beaches.”

San Diego County officials are asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to approve spending for a new diversion system and a sewage plant upgrade. Backers argue that could capture and treat 90% of the flows coming across the border.

RELATED: Cross Border Sewage Flow Inundating San Diego’s South County

As Tijuana Sewage Pollutes South San Diego Beaches, County Asks For Federal Help

But there has been no action on that plan since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

That leaves three local lawsuits filed by municipalities, local and state agencies, and environmental groups as the best hope for action. Those lawsuits were temporarily put on hold over the winter so both sides could talk about solutions. The hold has since expired.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Ben Hueso said there are things that can be done now, but Mexico holds the key to action.

“They’ve got to make those investments in areas that prevent these outflows,” Hueso said. “It’s as simple as that. I just can’t express it any other way. I know it’s that simple. But it’s not happening.”

Imperial Beach opened its beaches this week after being shut down because of the COVID 19 pandemic. The water remains off-limits because of the sewage.

As Tijuana Sewage Pollutes South San Diego Beaches, County Asks For Federal Help
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.