February 4, 2020

MEXICO: City Of Tijuana Dumped More Than 100 Million Gallons Of Toxic Sewage Into The Tijuana River Over The Weekend Which Made Its Way To San Diego Contaminating U.S. Waters.

KUSI News, San Diego local
written by Dan Plante
Monday February 3, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – It’s only been a few days since local elected representatives discussed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement and promised that funding for the pact would positively impact pollution in the Tijuana River Valley.

Local leaders were outraged Monday as Tijuana dumped more than 100 million gallons of toxic sewage into the Tijuana river over the weekend, which made its way to San Diego.

Last week, U.S. Reps. Mike Levin, D-Oceanside, Susan Davis, D-San Diego, Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, Scott Peters, D-San Diego, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer discussed the $300 million in the international agreement to fund the Border Water Infrastructure Project (BWIP) to address pollution in the Tijuana River.

Over four years, that money would fortify water treatment facilities in the valley, namely the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant. In December, the House and U.S. Senate also passed a $1.4 trillion federal spending deal that includes $25 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Border Water Infrastructure Program, $10 million more than Congress’ allocation to the program last year.

Transborder pollution from the Tijuana River has contaminated U.S. waters and coastlines for decades, forcing San Diego County environmental health officials to regularly close beach access near the border. During that time, local and state officials and environmental activists have called for federal assistance to protect the health of the environment and residents near the border.

However, San Diego’s elected officials are wondering if both sides of the border will ever truly come together to solve the issue.

CBS8 San Diego published Nov 13, 2019: Toxic sewage routinely closes San Diego beaches. For decades, high bacteria levels have forced San Diego beaches to be closed off and on. Often, the cause is runoff from the Tijuana River or discharge when something goes wrong at a sewage treatment plant.
A MUST WATCH 3:47 minute video. Say no to Socialism. They don't give a crap about the environment. People in the United States want to turn America into Mexico. People escape Mexico for a better life in America. Regular folks don't try to escape America. Only criminals and rich people wanting to avoid paying taxes. Regular folks risk their lives trying to escape Socialist, Communist, and Islam ruled nations. (emphasis mine)
The Los Angeles Times
written by Joshua Emerson Smith
Sunday February 2, 2020

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego region has secured $300 million in federal funding for a new U.S. facility to capture Tijuana sewage spills before they foul shorelines in the South Bay region of southwestern San Diego County, elected leaders said Friday.

“This has been an issue in our region for decades, and concrete federal action to address cross-border pollution has been long overdue,” said Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) at a news conference in Chula Vista.

Congressional leaders announced the funding in December, but it wasn’t clear whether that money would be doled out across the entire Southwest border or dedicated specifically to address pollution in the Tijuana River Valley.

Now officials believe most, if not all, of that cash will flow to the San Diego region, thanks to language included in the overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by President Trump on Wednesday.

“This is a huge, huge deal,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. “We still have a lot of work to go, but I never imagined that we’d be here right now. I’m just astounded.”

The approach is a shift from longstanding efforts to help Mexico maintain its wastewater system in Tijuana.

Last summer, top officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency visited San Diego to lay out a blueprint with several options for how to address the pollution.

Since then, San Diego leaders have rallied around building a roughly $400-million facility north of the border to intercept and treat the pollution. It’s been estimated the project could reduce cross-border flows from roughly 138 days a year on average, down to about 12.

“Make no mistake, [with] the signing of this agreement, the dollars are going to follow to clean up the sewage spills from the Tijuana River Valley once and for all,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who was present when Trump signed the agreement at the White House earlier this week. “This is a shining example of what we can do when we work together.”

Other elected officials at Friday’s news conference included San Diego Democratic Reps. Susan Davis, Juan Vargas and Scott Peters, as well as San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox. Over recent months, leaders have made multiple trips to Washington to make their case for increased funding along the border.

EPA officials are scheduled to hold a public meeting March 9 in Coronado to discuss next steps.

“They wanted us to come up with a plan,” said Cox. “We’ve collectively done that. We’ve presented it to them … They’ve got some money now that they can start working on the project almost immediately, and we look forward to hearing what their solutions are going to be.”

The increase in federal resources comes after the state of California, as well as the cities of Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and San Diego, have filed Clean Water Act lawsuits against the Trump administration to force action on the issue.

Those legal proceedings have been stayed pending ongoing negotiations.

“I think it’s very professional that the lawsuits are stayed, but I like the lawsuits,” Peters said. “I think the lawsuits being out there [says] this community is serious about it.”

According to California’s lawsuit, toxic water pollution from Mexico has shuttered San Diego beaches more than 500 days over the last three years.

Most of the impacts are concentrated along the southern shoreline of Imperial Beach, which has been closed since November with tens of millions of gallons of heavily polluted water flowing over the border daily.

Officials say those exposed to the pollution include Border Patrol agents who often track down unauthorized immigrants crossing in polluted mud, as well as military personnel, such as Navy SEALS, who train in the open ocean. Swimming in water tainted with raw sewage can expose people to pathogens such as E. coli, Vibrio and salmonella.

Mexico has long operated pumps on the Tijuana River and capture basins in canyons along the border to divert flows before they hit San Diego County beaches. The water is sent to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant in the U.S. or pumped out to sea in Mexico.

Even a small storm, however, can overwhelm the system, flushing a toxic stew of rainwater, raw sewage, heavy metals and other contaminants through the river valley and out to sea.

In recent decades, the U.S. government has worked with Mexico to help fund maintenance and expansion of its wastewater infrastructure.

Still, those upgrades haven’t been able to keep pace with Tijuana’s growing population, including the expansion of unsanctioned communities along the border that routinely dump sewage, chemicals and other pollution into stormwater canals.

This is CA published Jan 23, 2018: A Toxic River Runs Through It: Tijuana River Valley.
A MUST WATCH 3:12 minutes documentary about this longstanding problem. (emphasis mine)
Bloomberg News, Environment
Boot-Melting Mexican Sewage Has San Diego Seeking Help
written by Emily C. Dooley
March 25, 2019

Foamy, yellow plumes of toxic sewage are belching onto California’s beaches and waterways near Mexico, eating into the boots of border agents, sickening swimmers, and shutting down tourism.

Raw sewage, solvents, and trash from the Tijuana River in Mexico have prompted San Diego water authorities to urge state health officials to examine the risks to state employees and beachgoers, particularly in the border city of Imperial Beach.

The toxic flows have breached the border for decades after heavy rains, pipe failures, or even wind changes. But they’ve intensified recently as the population booms on the Mexican side without a corresponding increase in sewer, water, and trash collection efforts.

And budgeting problems and issues of jurisdiction are leaving state and local officials with few options.

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said March 21 while the border gets attention nationally, his concerns are not about migrants but the flows of sewage, industrial runoff, and trash.

“A wave breaks over you and you find yourself in this toxic swamp,” Dedina said. “It’s overwhelming. You feel like you’re drowning in sewage.”

Beach closures are frequent, blocking the community off from the landscape and harming tourism, he said.
Call for State Investigation

Dave Gibson, executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, is asking the California Department of Public Health to examine the risks to state employees and beachgoers from pathogens and chemicals in wastewater and industrial flows, with a focus on Imperial Beach.

“The water board is concerned about the health and safety of the public and for their staff that are exposed,” Gibson told Bloomberg Environment March 21, with mosquito-borne diseases and inhaling contaminated air also a concern.

Dedina, the Imperial Beach mayor, worries the beach will often be closed this summer if a solution is not found.

The city of 27,000 is forced to rely on lifeguards, tide gauges, modeling, and Tijuana residents to tell them about sewage releases or dumps so they can avoid the yellow plumes in the ocean while surfing or swimming.

“I’ve gotten sick,” he said. “My kids have gotten sick. Our city manager has gotten sick. Our lifeguards are getting sick. The beach has become sort of an enemy.”

Navy Seals train nearby at a new $1 billion facility and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are also constantly exposed.

Wading In

In addition to water rescues, Customs and Border Protection agents have to routinely check the grates on culverts and connectors to be sure they have not been cut.

It requires wading into the water during wet season and kicking up dust during dry times, said Chris Harris, a retired agent who was also director of legislative and public affairs for his union.

Harris said welts and rashes are not uncommon, and one agent had to medically retire in his 30s after almost losing his arm to a flesh-eating bacteria.

“There’s a lot of ways to get exposed,” Harris said. “It’s been going on for years and it’s getting worse. We don’t know what we’re exposed to.”

Over a period of a few months, more than 80 cases of illness were reported by agents, he said.

In 2018, CBP ordered that water quality samples be collected at sites around the Tijuana River “to identify the full host of potential biological and chemical contaminants that could be present.”

Multiple Pollutants

A draft CBP report shows that volatile organic chemicals, uranium, iron, chromium, pesticides, herbicides, and biological contaminants were detected.

Much of the problem comes down to economics, faltering infrastructure, and jurisdictional questions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s budget for its U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program got $15 million this year to cover needs along the entire 2,000-mile border.

The International Boundary and Water Commission is jointly operated by Mexico and the U.S. to focus on water quality, sanitation, and flood control along the border.

A 2015 agreement on transborder issues recommended evaluating possible sewage treatment upgrades or projects but it has not been implemented, Gibson said.

“There’s been a great deal of inconsistency with how IBWC has dealt with issues,” Gibson said.

Legal Actions

The water board and Imperial Beach have both filed lawsuits against the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission over pollution and Clean Water Act violations.

San Diego has joined the state action while the Chula Vista and the San Diego Unified Port District joined the Imperial Beach claim. The Surfrider Foundation also has a claim.

Lori Kuczmanski, a spokeswoman for the commission, said she could not discuss transborder sewage issues because of the ongoing litigation. She was unaware if any report on proposed projects was on the horizon.

Meanwhile, the water board and partners are working on a feasibility study to examine about 20 projects that could be done on the U.S. side of the border to collect, stop, or divert the waste coming from Mexico.

“The reality is the local agencies have been tasked with trying to deal with what is really an international problem,” Gibson said.

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