CORONADO, Calif. — Dozens of protesters gathered to pressure state and federal officials to expedite work on a system to capture the toxic waste flowing from Tijuana into the Pacific Ocean.

In just August, Imperial Beach officials say billions of gallons of toxic sewage waste and trash flowed through the Tijuana River Valley and contaminated Imperial Beach beaches and reaching Coronado as well.

The generational problem stems from a failed Mexican wastewater system.

“It’s been impacting humanity for decades, but now it’s time to step up as a united front and to tell the governor that he’s got to address this,” protest organizer Marely Ramirez said.

Now, federal officials have allocated $350 million to fix and retrofit a water filtration plant, but the process is slow going and Paloma Aguirre, the mayor of Imperial Beach, has lost all patience, demanding California Gov. Gavin Newsom and President Biden declare a state of emergency.

“We want to see a significant reduction in the number of days our beaches close, our air is polluted, that our stench permeates our city,” Aguirre said. 

The Environmental Protection Agency released a letter stating they are reaching out to get bids from contractors and Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey says he is optimistic things are moving in the right direction.

“By the EPA taking this step, what it does is that it gives confidence to the contractors, that if they start working on the project, that when the funding is necessary to complete it, Congress must legally fund it, they must appropriate funds for it, so this is a huge step and it’s kind of buried in the weeds, it’s buried beneath the headline, but this is absolutely monumental,” Bailey said.

Mexico is also reporting they are getting plans for an overhaul of their wastewater system in October, and plan on a major pipeline correction in November, which could cut down some of the wastewater flowing.