U.S. and Mexican officials agree to work together to investigate sewage contamination in south San Diego

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The United States and Mexican Commissioners of the International Boundary and Water Commission agreed Thursday to investigate the cause of a sewage spill polluting south San Diego beaches.

The investigation will determine when the spill occurred, quantify how much sewage spilled, specify the characteristics of the sewage and identify problems in procedures to notify the Commission and the public. 

Related Link: Councilmember Alvarez, Mayor Dedina to take action against sewage contamination from Tijuana

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.

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.

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.

California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) issued the following statement Thursday regarding the launch of the investigation: 

“Spilling 143 million gallons of sewage into the Tijuana River absolutely warrants a federal investigation and I am glad that one will be done,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “The health of my constituents has been severely impacted by the contaminated waters and we are furious. Failing to notify the public of this environmental disaster is unconscionable. It is my hope that the investigation by the IBWC will result in improved communication and that a failure of this magnitude doesn’t happen again.”  

Categories: Local San Diego News