Beach closure extended to Coronado as tainted water spreads

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Beaches from the border to Coronado were closed Tuesday as heavy rainfall brought contaminated water from the Tijuana River Valley north.

The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health expanded an existing water contact closure to include the entirety of Imperial Beach, Silver Strand and Coronado’s shorelines. At least a third of an inch of rain has fallen in the region since Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.

The department issued an advisory to avoid water contact at all beaches and bays along the coast. Rain brings urban runoff, which causes bacteria levels to rise significantly in ocean and bay waters, “especially near storm drains, creeks, rivers and lagoon outlets,” a county press release stated. The runoff may contain bacteria from sources such as animal waste, soil and decomposing vegetation.

Contact with water should be avoided for 72 hours after the rain event, county sources said.

Sewage-contaminated water from Tijuana has filtered into the Tijuana Slough for months, necessitating a shoreline closure of south Imperial Beach since November. Regional leaders celebrated $300 million in federal funding for cross-border water projects in January.

Over four years, that money will fortify water-treatment facilities in the valley, namely the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In December, Congress passed a $1.4 trillion federal spending deal that includes $25 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Border Water Infrastructure Program, $10 million more than last year’s allocation.

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