Getting control of border pollution

It's pretty much a given that when big storms hit San Diego waste water and tons of debris floods across from Mexico ends up in the ocean near Imperial Beach. Hardly anything has been done about it, but thanks to a professor from UCSD that may be about to change. KUSI's David Davis was at the border and reports on the proposed tracking program.

It is a disgusting sea of trash.  Saturday's huge winter storm has done it again, depositing tons upon tons of garbage into Goat Canyon and ultimately into the Pacific Ocean. UCSD Professor Oscar Romo and his research assistant Jennifer Leonard have seen enough and have a plan to track the trash using a radio identification tag that has a micro chip on it and an antenna.

The plan is to place the radio frequency ID in 2,000 bright blue jugs and drop them in 80 unmanaged, and basically illegal, dumping sites in Tijuana.

At these sites you can find construction material, hospital waste, all sorts of stuff that is not produced by an individual. They're probably industries and restaurants and hospitals dumping to avoid the dumping fee.

Most of the blue jugs have ended up on the U.S. side of the border. The ones not spotted with the human eye can be traced with a transmitter.

What it shows may seem obvious to the point of ridiculous, that Mexican trash and waste water are polluting our environment, but Professor Romo says it's a tedious case of political science. “Authorities on both sides of the border don't recognize this problem unless there's scientific proof, that trash is traveling from specific point to habitat here,” said Romo.

And it's not just the trash, it's waste water, too, which is compounding the problem. It smells and is very dangerous for the ocean. The waste water is full of pathogens, bacteria and other chemicals that then pollute the ocean. Not to mention the wildlife that feeds on what they believe are nutrients and becoming sick.

Goat Canyon is just one of 28 canyons that wind down from Mexico and eventually dump into the Pacific Ocean, but it is a significant one, and Professor Romo believes that if his research can prove something there, things will change.

Categories: KUSI