Souther California residents have been dealing with this issue for decades: raw sewage from Mexico is spilling ino their neighborhoods.
Recent storms over the San Diego and Tijuana regions have worsened the problem. Millions of gallons of toxic water — a lot of which is sourced from the Tijuana River — have closed beaches as far as Coronado and it is polluting the air and water.
Mexico has long planned to help resolve the issue. The country made repairs to Tijuana’s outdated sewage infrastructure last year and is planning to fix additional issues, but Border Report said Tuesday that the sewage has continued.
According to Voice of San Diego, the improved PB-CILA pump station treatment pipes were too small to handle the water and constantly clogged by garbage — backed up with trash nine times between Aug.1 and Nov. 3, 2020, and shutting down allowing the water to run free.
The pump station also lost electrical power multiple times in December, creating the same result.
The persistent problems are no surprise to residents of San Diego County, where health officials issued an advisory at the end of last month about water quality at Imperial Beach and Silver Strand and Coronado Shorelines were closed by the Department of Environmental Health and Quality due to contamination on April 3.
In a 60 Minutes special last year, border agents and even Navy SEALs — who have a training base nearby — detailed gruesome health-related injuries, including flesh-eating bacteria, rashes, and cellulitis.
Both Mexico and the U.S. think more needs to be done to resolve the issue. But some U.S. officials believe they’ve solved all the problems on the American side.
Serge Dedina, the mayor of Imperial Beach, said the problem in his “beach town” is far from resolved.
“Apparently environmental justice is a buzzword applied to everywhere else except the Tijuana River Valley where dumping toxic waste and sewage on kids, Navy SEALs wildlife and beaches is accepted and ignored,” Dedina said in a tweet.
“The residents of @CityofIB reported sickening stench of sewage+toxic waste today,” he continued. “This is why the @sdapcd board: @seanelo @SDGeorgette @MarcusBush_NC @NoraVargasSD @SupFletcher must address this EJ air pollution crisis. The TJ River is an air and water pollution emergency.”
Imperial Beach City Council member Paloma Aguirre told Border Report that everyone in their City Council has already fallen ill from exposure.
Since a major sewer pipe cracked four years ago, the issue has only worsened. Imperial Beach, as well as then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, later sued the federal government for violations of the Clean Water Act.
The Los Angeles Times reported in February that the EPA had a meeting in Coronado in 2019 which unveiled around $200 million in projects. Also, with the help of Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., San Diego’s congressional delegation had secured $300 million to address border pollution problems under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement.
Recently, both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act. This puts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in charge of cleanup efforts and developing infrastructure projects.
Veteran California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a press release that in partnership with fellow Golden State Democrat Sen. Alex Padilla, the bill would implement necessary changes as guided by a Government Accountability Office report.
“The people of Southern California have been forced to suffer while different federal agencies keep passing the buck,” she said. “This bill will put an end to the confusion by putting the EPA in charge of coordinating efforts and fixing the problem.”