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San Diego border sewage plan moves forward

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants the public to weigh in on a $630 million plan to fix the region’s cross border pollution problems.

Federal officials have completed a draft environmental impact review on a project that would treat sewage in the waters along the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego and they are looking for public comment.

The agency is recommending a sweeping plan to bolster the capture and treatment of sewage tainted flows on both sides of the international border.


“The border communities share one watershed, and the solutions to reducing pollution in our shared environment require binational collaboration across all levels of government,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “EPA has worked closely with the United States International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), a wide range of stakeholders, and the public to achieve today’s milestone, which demonstrates tangible progress toward reducing pollution flows. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and hearing directly from the communities across the watershed.”

A key component of the comprehensive plan is a massive upgrade of sewage treatment capacity on the U.S. side of the border and rebuilding a broken Mexican sewage treatment plant south of Tijuana.

“We look forward to working with stakeholders and EPA to address the sanitation problem at San Diego-Tijuana,” said USIBWC Commissioner Dr. Maria-Elena Giner.

The projects are meant to keep sewage tainted flows out of the ocean and beach closures linked to pollution at a minimum.

“For now we’ve identified a set of alternatives, different ways of addressing the problem and we’re now looking at what are the environmental ramifications of those various alternatives,” said Doug Eberhardt, of the EPA’s region nine office.


The environmental review looked at the impact of three alternatives: a comprehensive plan which is the preferred choice, a scaled back plan and a do-nothing option.

Once public input has been incorporated, officials will select an option with an eye toward starting the design process in the fall.