Crews build berms in effort to prevent sewage flows into U.S.

SAN DIEGO -- This week, crews have been erecting berms at the border where the Tijuana River enters the U.S. in hopes of preventing raw sewage from flowing into the ocean and shutting down beaches.

The barriers, which have been paid for by Mexico and the U.S., are supposed to catch sewage released by a pump station that often shuts down, especially during rainstorms.

"In the meantime, while they repair the pump station, we have a safety net that prevents beach closures," said Paloma Aguirre.

Aguirre works with Wildcoast, an environmental agency that has been spearheading efforts to clean up the Tijuana River Valley for many years. She said the berms are already paying off.

“Maybe 100 to 200,000 gallons of water will be sent back once the pump station gets going. That just means 200,000 gallons less that came across to foul our river valley and beaches," Aguirre said.

Aguirre said the berms have been constructed out of sandbags on the Mexico side of the border, while the berms on the U.S. side have been built out of earth and sediment already in the channel.

The hope is both countries will figure out a way to pay and construct permanent barriers in the future.