Local leaders meet with feds about Tijuana sewage spills

CORONADO, Calif. -- Local leaders and representatives of several federal agencies met Wednesday to look for a solution to the ongoing sewage spills contaminating the Tijuana River Valley and the shoreline from Imperial Beach to Coronado.

Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection met with elected leaders from San Diego County, the Port of San Diego and the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Imperial Beach and Chula Vista.

The cities have been working closely with EPA and other federal partners to find a solution to the pollution since early 2018. Tijuana’s deteriorating sewer system regularly discharges contaminants into the waters that empty along the Southern California coast. Wednesday's meeting focused on efforts to find technical and financial solutions to the sewage flows from Mexico on both sides of the border.

Following the meeting, local officials said they have come up with a clear idea of what needs to be done and how much it’s going to cost to begin cleaning up the water.

“The time for talk is over," Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said. "The time of actually doing things and preventing sewage and toxic waste from reaching our beach is now."

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey said officials are going to ask Congress for $400 million to begin projects that will help clean up the problem.

Bailey said the money would go to “projects to divert sewage and wastewater flows away from the Tijuana River Valley so that it can either be treated or diverted to an outflow pump that would pump the water far out into the Pacific Ocean so we wouldn’t be directly affected.”

The meeting participants identified technical and financial solutions to address and divert sewage flows on both sides of the border.

“Ultimately this is Mexico’s responsibility. Mexico really does need to step up and provide funding to address the situation. At the end of the day their children are swimming in the sewage as well and recognizing that we are we bare the brunt of a lot of these sewage spills," Bailey said. "We’re willing to step up and be partners with Mexico. We’re willing to do what we can on our side of the border, but Mexico needs to be a player as well. "

The mayors of Imperial Beach and San Diego along with the San Diego Port Commissioner are scheduled to meet with Mexican officials to discuss costs and diversion projects in a week.

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