Mexico's raw sewage still pouring into California coastal cities: report

Recent storms have exacerbated the issue

A decades-long issue for the residents of Southern California, raw sewage from Mexico continues to flow north of the border.

The issue has been exacerbated by recent storms over the San Diego and Tijuana regions, with millions of gallons of toxic water -- a lot of which is sourced from the Tijuana River -- shuttering beaches as far as Coronado and polluting air and water.


While Mexico has long planned to help to resolve the issue, making repairs to fast-growing Tijuana's outdated sewage infrastructure last year and planning to fix additional issues, Border Report said Tuesday that the sewage has continued. 

According to Voice of San Diego, the improved PB-CILA pump station treatment pipes were too small to handle the water and constantly clogged by garbage -- backed up with trash nine times between Aug.1 and Nov. 3, 2020, and shutting down allowing the water to run free.

In addition, the outlet reported in February that the pump station lost electrical power multiple times in December, creating the same result.

The persistent problems are no surprise to inhabitants of San Diego County, where health officials issued an advisory at the end of last month about water quality at Imperial Beach and Silver Strand and Coronado Shorelines were closed by the Department of Environmental Health and Quality due to contamination on April 3.

In an extensive report on CBS' "60 Minutes" last year, border agents and even Navy SEALs -- who have a training base nearby -- detailed gruesome health-related injuries, including flesh-eating bacteria, rashes and cellulitis.

Sewage-fouled runoff from the Tijuana River has prompted authorities to issue an ocean-pollution warning for several miles of the shoreline just north of the U.S.-Mexico border near San Ysidro, California March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake (REUTERS/Mike Blake)


Both Mexico and the U.S. believe each other should be doing more to implement an effective solution, though some officials assert they've already solved any problems on the U.S. side.

Serge Dedina, the mayor of Imperial Beach, said the problem in his "beach town" is far from resolved.

"Apparently environmental justice is a buzzword applied to everywhere else except the Tijuana River Valley where dumping toxic waste and sewage on kids, Navy SEALs wildlife and beaches is accepted and ignored," Dedina tweeted Tuesday. 

"The residents of @CityofIB reported sickening stench of sewage+toxic waste today," he said. "This is why the @sdapcd board: @seanelo @SDGeorgette @MarcusBush_NC @NoraVargasSD @SupFletcher must address this EJ air pollution crisis. The TJ River is an air and water pollution emergency."

Imperial Beach City Council member Paloma Aguirre told Border Report that everyone in their City Council had already been sickened by the exposure. 

Since a major sewer pipe cracked four years ago, pressure to address the issue has only increased and Imperial Beach, as well as then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, later sued the federal government for violations of the Clean Water Act.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.(Drew Angerer/Pool via AP)

The Los Angeles Times reported in February that the EPA had a meeting in Coronado in 2019 which unveiled around $200 million in projects and, with the help of Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., San Diego's congressional delegation had secured $300 million to address border pollution problems under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement.

Recently, both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, which puts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in charge of overseeing cleanup efforts and developing infrastructure projects, according to KUSI.


In a release, veteran California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in partnership with fellow Golden State Democrat Sen. Alex Padilla, said the bill would implement necessary changes as guided by a Government Accountability Office report.

"The people of Southern California have been forced to suffer while different federal agencies keep passing the buck," she said. "This bill will put an end to the confusion by putting the EPA in charge of coordinating efforts and fixing the problem."