Call Mounts For Federal Investigation of Tijuana River Sewage Spill

Signs warn of sewage contamination on beach at Border Field State Park | Photo: Brian Auer, some rights reserved
Signs warn of sewage contamination on beach at Border Field State Park | Photo: Brian Auer, some rights reserved

California's border with Baja California is a complex region with unique environmental issues. Our Borderlands series takes a deeper look at this region unified by shared landscapes and friendship, and divided by international politics.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego political and environmental leaders are scheduled today to encourage the public to pressure federal officials to investigate a huge sewage spill in Mexico that has fouled beaches and other areas of southern San Diego County.

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina and San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez, who represents southern areas of the city, plan to hold a news conference to call attention to the issue.

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According to Alvarez's office, more than 143 million gallons of raw sewage flowed from Mexico into the Pacific Ocean, heavily polluting the Tijuana River Valley and nearby beaches.

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The stench was widespread and consistently reported with nothing but silence in response from authorities on both sides of the border, putting the health of area residents at risk, his office said. Alvarez heads the City Council's Environment Committee.

The news conference is set to take place an hour before a 6:30 p.m. meeting of the International Boundary and Water Commission's U.S. Section Citizens Forum. The commission implements water treaties between the U.S. and Mexico, and settles disputes that might arise.

One of the items on the agenda is a report on tracking the flow of solid waste across the border.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Mexican officials said the discharge resulted from a project to repair a sewer pipe at the confluence of the Alamar and Tijuana rivers, south of the international border. U.S. officials weren't notified about the work, however.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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