SAN DIEGO — The California Coastal Commission, which met on Wednesday, wants President Joe Biden to declare the border sewage crisis an emergency.
Commissioners approved sending the president a letter urging him to do whatever it takes to accelerate plans to improve the plant.
The aging wastewater plant in San Ysidro has allowed Tijuana sewage to contaminate South Bay shorelines. They also asked the president the suspend regulations preventing the International Boundary and Water Commission, the agency that manages the plant, from receiving money from non-federal entities.
Paloma Aguirre, Imperial Beach mayor and coastal commissioner, said an emergency declaration could help the agency start accepting grants.
“Appropriated funding for domestic purposes cannot go to the IBWC because it’s under the Department of State and because it has an international component,” explained Aguirre.
Last month, the commission asked the agency why $300 million allocated for repairs had not yet been used to expand the facility and if an emergency declaration would help speed things up. IBCW says at this point, the emergency may not be beneficial.
Dr. Maria-Elena Giner, Commissioner with IBWC said the project is moving forward and has already cleared federal processes.
“My experience with these emergency declarations is that you’re able to waive certain processes and we’ve pretty much gone through all the processes that we could potentially waived,” said Giner.
“Whether we call it a state or emergency or we call it a disaster or an executive order a waive by executive order whatever we end up calling it it’s needed,” said Aguirre.