Beach closures lifted after sewage spill

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IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. -- The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health lifted its beach closure in Imperial Beach Monday after water testing found that sewage-contaminated water flow from the Tijuana River is no longer affecting the city's beaches, as was the case last week.

A closure issued November 29 was then expanded following heavy rain and flooding on December 6. Then days later, on December 11, a rupture in Mexico’s sewage system poured 6 to 7 million gallons of sewage into the water.

“We can’t control the weather but that’s why we need to get this infrastructure in the river valley to capture those flood flows and really divert that sewage away from the coast and stop it from ruining 12 miles of coastline from the border all the way north toward Coronado," said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.

Dedina says international water investigators also met Monday with Mexican counterparts to discuss funding, clean-up and repair efforts to Mexico’s sewage infrastructure. He doesn’t know how the meeting went, but says something has to be done, quickly.

“Our beaches need to be open 365 days a year, 'cause I just want to surf at home," Dedina said. "I don’t want to spend my time doing interviews about water pollution. I want to spend my time actually out on the water surfing, except when it’s 8- to 10-foot crushing waves. So we’re going to do everything that we can. We’re going to fight as hard as possible but we need more people at the table. So they need to join that lawsuit and really pressure the federal government to clean it up and fix the problem."

There have been at least 300 recorded sewage spills in the last three years and rainfall always forces beach closures.

Residents can find information on the Tijuana River by calling the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission at 619-662-7600.

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