State of emergency renewed after Tijuana River Valley sewage spills

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego City Council re-declared a state of emergency Friday following the repeated sewage spills in the Tijuana River Valley.

As the Tijuana River Valley continues to accumulate unwanted sewage and trash from south of the border, the council declares a state of emergency every 30 days. The first declaration dates back to the early '90s and has been repeated every year since.

During the meeting, Imperial Beach residents showed their support for the continued state of emergency.

“To help put things in perspective, in the last 10 years, Imperial Beach has been closed a total of 3 years," one resident said. "Some of these spills are only noticed by Border Patrol agents because they take place in areas rarely transited by recreational users.”

In February, a massive spill dumped millions of gallons into the Tijuana estuary and eventually made its way into the ocean off the coast of Imperial Beach.

“A lot of people maybe have only recently learned about the spills but these spills have been going on for a long time," said Councilmember David Alvarez.

While some spills go unnoticed, city officials say the latest large sewage spill from Mexico released an estimated 670,000 gallons of waste into the Tijuana River Valley. No matter the size, the council says until a long-term resolution is addressed for the community and the environment, a state of emergency must stay in place.

“It happened in July, it’s happening when it’s not raining, it happens obviously a lot more when it rains," Alvarez said. "Most importantly what we’re trying to do is get the attention of the federal government. This is a real emergency and a real problem, a real a crisis, and with our declaration, then we can be eligible for funds to come into the community to help address this issue."

One way the issue is catching the attention of the federal government is through a lawsuit in the works of being filed by the City of Imperial Beach. Proper funding can go towards the current treatment plant for a long-term solution.