New board members push to help solve border sewage spills

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. – Eleven new members of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission Citizens Forum Board met Thursday night in Imperial Beach for the first time since they were appointed.

Made up of local government representatives, residents, business leaders, activists and scientists, the group of volunteers have one thing in common: hoping to stop sewage flows from Mexico into the U.S.

“I haven’t been able to use my beach in almost two years and I can’t even take my grandson to the beach,” said Baron Partlow, who was recently appointed as one of the new board members.

Partlow said he is sick and tired of not getting to enjoy the beach he loves because of continued sewage spills from the Tijuana River into the U.S.

“The question everyone wants to know is when is it going to stop?” Partlow said.

At the meeting, Partlow asked that very question in front of Carlos Peña, area operations manager of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission.

“He asked a good question. Of course, I said I don’t have that answer of when this will be completed,” Peña said.

But Peña did say the commission is working closely with its counterparts in Mexico and that communication with them has improved.

“They want to work with us. I’ve seen a great increase in their response to questions we’ve had. Here in the past week, we had some issues with some problems at their pump stations. So we continue to work with them,” Peña said.

Peña said Mexico plans to spend $9,000,000 to fix immediate needs to its infrastructure.

Partlow said as a member of the board, he hopes to accomplish an end to the pollution into the U.S., the closing of the beaches and the contamination of the river valley.

The board members, who will serve a two-year term, say they will continue to listen closely to updates and ask tough questions in hopes of being part of the solution.

The board will hold its next meeting June 7.