Raw sewage from Mexico continues to taint Southern California beaches, efforts to stop it fall short


IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (Border Report) — Raw sewage from Mexico flowing north of the border is a problem that has persisted between San Diego and Tijuana for decades.

It’s still happening.

Last year, the city of Tijuana and the state of Baja California made some repairs to Tijuana’s outdated sewage infrastructure and officials said the problem was fixed.

It worked for a few weeks but since then, the sewage has returned. Right now, 30 to 40 million gallons of raw sewage is flowing daily from Mexico into the Tijuana River Valley and out to the ocean on the north side of the border.

Beach goer in Imperial Beach. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

“They make repairs here, they make a repair there and the tendency is to make a big claim: ‘We fixed it, we fixed the issue,'” said Imperial Beach Council City Council member Paloma Aguirre, adding that the city of Tijuana has not been able to keep up as more than two million people are using a sewage system built in the 1940s.

“We have an ongoing sewage and public health crisis related to the sewage for better part of last 30 years,” she said.

Currently, the coastline just north of the border stretching into Imperial Beach is closed because of high levels of bacteria that have made their way into the ocean.

Signs have been posted asking people to stay out of the water.

The pollution came from fecal matter in the sewage that originated south of the border.

“You’re living exposed to these pollutants, I myself have gotten sick, gone to urgent care, everyone on the city council has gotten sick, it affects overall quality of life in this community,” Aguirre said.

A few weeks ago both the Senate and the House of Representatives paved the way for the Environmental Protection Agency to oversee cleanup efforts along the Tijuana River Valley to minimize the effects of sewage spills, but help is still a few years out.

The money for these projects will come from the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement signed last year.

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