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Sewage from Tijuana River prompts IB shore closures

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. -- The entire Imperial Beach shoreline remains closed Tuesday after storm-driven sewage out of Baja California was likely pushed into the area by recent rains.

An existing border-area water contact closure was expanded Monday to include Imperial Beach. The ocean pollution warning for Border Field State Park and the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge has been in effect since November.

"Sewage-contaminated runoff in the Tijuana River has been entering the Tijuana Estuary as a result of recent rainfall," according to a county Department of Environmental Health statement. "Observations indicate contamination of ocean water is likely in Imperial Beach."

Signs warning of contamination hazards will stand along the affected beaches until follow-up testing deems them safe again for recreational uses, the DEH advised.

But an idea that resurfaced last month is supported by many residents and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.

"We need to take steps to capture renegade sewage flows on this side of the Tijuana River Valley on U.S. side of the border," said Dedina.

The idea calls for giant catch basins that would pool the flows the minute they enter the U.S., before they get beyond the Dairy Mart Road Bridge. Immediately, pumps would be turned on to push the sewage to treatment facilities already in place in the Tijuana River Valley and others north of the border.

The theory is the sewage would never get to flow through the Tijuana River Valley and out to the ocean.

Residents say it's worth a shot.

"Let's give it a try," said South Bay resident Allen Saghun.