Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
podcast_1400-MiddayEdition.jpg
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Imperial Beach Closes After Mexico Sewage Flows North

 May 28, 2019 at 9:36 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Despite seeing some sunny weather, not much was happening in the waters off imperial beach. This memorial day, the whole of the city's shoreline was closed as a week's long south. Bay Beach closure was extended this weekend. The culprit as usual fouled water from runoff flowing from the Tijuana Valley. The rainy weather. This may has increased the amount of sewage flowing into the Pacific Ocean over the weekend. Imperial Beach residents with stop the poop signs protested. The ongoing beach closure problem. And joining me is surge to Dina. He's mayor of imperial beach and may or did. Dana, welcome. Thanks for having me. This problem has been going on for a long time. How bad would you say it's gotten now? Speaker 2: 00:42 Oh, everything's just gotten a lot worse. Exponentially worse this spring. And we've just had a series of nonstop sewage spills since April. In addition to new sources of sewage that are being dumped on the beach, south of the border fence from playas to Tijuana down to Rosarito. So what we see now when we have what are called south swells, a serves coming from the south and south wind is that's pushing up the sewage. And uh, last week we had the polluted pollution all the way up to cornetto on silver strand state beach was closed. So, um, it's just getting worse and we're really concerned about the summer, but we're really concerned about is the lack of action by on the part of the Mexican and US governments to do anything to help us. Speaker 1: 01:22 So you're saying the problem has gotten worse? Speaker 2: 01:25 Absolutely. We're seeing so many spills happen so often, um, from the Tijuana River valley to six canyons and then the main two you want to river channel as well as what's going on to beach that were, you know, frankly freaked out and were desperate. Speaker 1: 01:39 How has this affected these beach closures, how they affect it, IB in terms of tourism and the, and your economy? Speaker 2: 01:46 You know, our economy is never good in imperial beach, so we're just recovering. You know, we have some hotels, we're getting tourists, but it's really more of the health and psychic and sort of impact and social impact that imperial beach and surrounding community our entire life is at the beach in imperial beach. We are a low income city. That's where families go to enjoy the best days of their life. So when they can't go and when people can't surf or fish or are the strollers side moms can't work out in the navy. Seals can't work out because it's polluted. That destroys the fabric of our community. We don't want people hanging out in bars. We want people hanging out at the beach exercising. So it's a, it takes a huge toll on our city. And uh, I can't spend the time I need to spend on making sure our working class and middle class families have access to the same resources that the rest of San Diego does. Like, you know, a swimming pool or a parks and rec department or paved streets, paved alleys, a cross walks and sidewalks, more economic developments. We have more access to healthy food. If I'm spending all my time trying to stop people from dumping toxic waste on us. Speaker 1: 02:46 What's it been like living with this situation, these beach closures and this fouling in the South Bay. Speaker 2: 02:51 So if you live in San Ysidro, south San Diego, a corn on or IB, you're just, you're dealing with this issue of where you have this resource that should be the greatest source of joy becoming a source of fear. So this morning, my buddy Andrew called me, he, I've known him since he was a kid. He's got two little kids now and he's concerned about the junior lifeguard program, uh, in imperial beach. He's not surfing in imperial beach anymore. His buddies are saying, come up to North County and surf with me like we're environmental refugees. Unconcerned about the impact of on air quality in San Ysidro. We're going to start looking and see if we can get air monitors to monitor for fecal coliform in the air because of what's going on in the Tijuana River valley right there. So things are really bad scripts as monitoring air quality and imperial beach, but it's just gotten worse. Speaker 2: 03:32 But more it reminds you the hepatitis crisis, the folks who can do the most are doing a lease. So the county of San Diego has not joined the lawsuit. They need to. We need daily testing and our beaches, the city of Cornetto, one of the wealthiest cities in the world that has been impacted by this issue is not doing enough. They need to join a lawsuit. Well, this morning I asked, I talked to Alejandro, so tell us Elise, the awesome new mayor of national city. If we can figure out a way to have her join her city, join our lawsuit and a no cost national city will join the lawsuit. But right now the city of San Diego. Thank you Kevin Faulkner and driven Mareno in the entire city of San Diego Council, the state of California. Thank you. Governor Newsome, uh, the city of Chula Vista. Thank you mayor solace and the entire city council of Chula Vista and the port of San Diego in the Surf Rider Foundation have joined our lawsuit. Speaker 2: 04:16 It's not enough. Everybody needs to jump on board to help us because we're being poisoned and, and, and, and everybody in San Diego seems to think it's okay. What's the status of the lawsuit at this point? So we're apparently prepared to go to federal court for the main hearing. I think the federal government tried to settle with us than a settlement offer was dropped. The lawsuit, we're not going to do anything about it. So there was like a godfather style offer, like drop the lawsuit and that's it. There wasn't even the offer of doing anything at all. Like it's, it's absolutely crazy that in 2019 I'm just, I have to beg the federal government not to allow people to dump toxic waste on us. It's ironic that in Goat Canyon where there's toxic waste flown under the border and literally making border patrol agents ill, the federal government, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in building a new border fence that we didn't need on top of another new border fence. Speaker 2: 05:07 And yet not spending any money to clean up this toxic waste in Mexico is not off the hook. I'll be in Los Cabos, uh, next week for this North American mayors summit. Hopefully have a chance to meet with President Lopez Obrador and the Foreign Minister Marcello, um, you Barton to talk about this. Mexico needs to get onboard and spend money to fix our sewer system. There's not another city and beach city in Mexico and I know all of them that is dumping raw sewage in the water, like Tijuana is back to one of those. So what are you going to ask them to do? Spend money and fixed the problem? We need to eliminate the 30 million, 30 to 40 million gallons a day of pumped up on Dennis was being discharged into the ocean. We need to stop the discharge of 25 million gallons of sewage in the Tijuana River every day. That's where our biggest source. Speaker 2: 05:54 We need to fix all the collector pipes that are broken. We need to make sure there's a system in which people are punished for dumping toxic waste and sewage on imperial beach, but also fouling beaches from ply as a Tijuana Rosarito beach. Um, but it's important to understand that imperial beach and all the other cities that have and the state that have joined us along the surf rider foundation shouldn't be on our own. The county needs to step up to the plate. The county has done almost nothing to help us. We need beach testing fulltime and cornetto again, a city laden with millionaires with millions of dollars in the bank. Tons of money has done almost nothing to help us. And their beaches are almost as polluted as ours. So it's not fair that imperial beach has left holding the bag. We spent the most amount of money to address us. We're now broke, uh, the counties increasing our, our sheriff costs by $800,000 for the next two years. You know, 55% of our households are low income and imperial beach. So that means that's less money for parks and rec. And, and frankly, I'm spending all my time focused on this because our partners in the federal government and the Trump administration have decided that it's dropped dead. Imperial Beach. There's nothing we can do to help you. Speaker 1: 07:02 I've been speaking with Imperial Beach Mayor Search Dudina asserts. Thanks. Thank you so much. San Diego county supervisor, Greg Cox had this response to the South Bay sewage problem. His statement reads in part quote, at this time, the county is not prepared to sue, but as keeping all legal options on the table, I continue to believe that a truly comprehensive multistep approach is needed to end this problem. That's why we have been working on a parallel track to pressure the administration to identify and fund solutions to address the situation once and for all. End Quote Speaker 3: 07:36 [inaudible].

Ways To Subscribe
The entire shoreline of a Southern California city is closed to swimmers after sewage-contaminated runoff flowed into California from Mexico's Tijuana River.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments