CA Lands Commission Wants Federal Action on Tijuana Sewage Pollution

The fence marks the international border at the Pacific Ocean in Tijuana.

SAN DIEGO (CN) – California’s State Lands Commission and a handful of San Diego County cities announced Friday a coordinated resolution to recommend federal actions on cross-border pollution of the Tijuana River Valley, where raw sewage and pollution flow from Mexico into the Pacific Ocean during rainy season wastewater infrastructure breeches.

The resolution calls for the federal government to allocate funds to the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out already identified projects, restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Tijuana River Valley and directs the EPA and the International Boundary and Water Commission to cooperate and timely execute the projects.

“This resolution reflects our shared commitment to invest in solutions to prevent transborder pollution from sullying Southern California’s Public Trust land,” Lt. Gov. and State Lands Commission Chair Eleni Kounalakis said in a statement.

The resolution was adopted by Imperial Beach earlier this week and is slated to be voted on by the county and port of San Diego, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board and cities of San Diego, Chula Vista and Coronado in the next two weeks.

“The federal government is going to see vote after vote come out of the San Diego region in December with one clear message: it’s time for action. Our unified voice calling on Washington and Mexico City is gaining traction. This resolution shows the region is pushing in the same direction for federal action to stop this environmental crisis for good,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a statement.

The resolution follows a series of lawsuits filed last year by local cities, agencies and the state of California over cross-border pollution the local governments says violates the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuits also claim a permit issued to the IWBC to operate the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant located in the Tijuana River Valley to treat sewage and wastewater from Tijuana, Mexico as it crosses the border into the U.S. has been violated for failure to capture and treat sewage and wastewater.

As a result, public beaches at nearby Border Field State Park have been closed for more than 200 days this year, with additional beach closures along the coastline from Imperial Beach to Coronado.

The consolidated lawsuits have been making their way through the Southern District of California.

This year, multiple federal bills by San Diego congressional representatives and Senator Dianne Feinstein have also secured tens of millions of dollars to address the pollution issue.

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