NBC7 San Diego: Trade Deal Allocates $300M for Tijuana Sewage Problem

December 12, 2019
In The News

House Democrats and the White House announced a deal Tuesday on a modified North American trade pact, which included significant funding to combat sewage pollution in the Tijuana River Valley.

“We’re expecting a one-time appropriation of $300 million to be dispersed $75 million per year over four years via Border Water Infrastructure Program,” Democratic Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49) said of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement deal.

The Tijuana River Valley, Imperial Beach, and Silver Strand State Beach have experienced regular closures due to sewage runoff. The most recent closures were caused by a downpour over Thanksgiving.

In September, city officials in San Diego updated a State of Emergency regarding the discharge of raw sewage in Tijuana to reflect that the situation worsened since they first adopted the resolution 25 years prior. 

"I can't even take my grandsons to the beach and body surf with them," IB resident Baron Partlow said.

Partlow started a local group called "Stop the Poop," which refers to the piles of raw sewage flowing from Mexico through the Tijuana River Valley into IB.

"The first thing we would like to see is 'Stop the Poop.' Stop it from happening and engineer and implement all the fixes that need to be done," Partlow said.

Plastic, tires, and sediment flow across the border from Mexico and into the U.S. and the City of San Diego, according to the amended state of emergency. 

Regional leaders representing both the U.S. and Mexico met earlier this year to discuss ways to end the flow of raw sewage and pollution into the Tijuana River Estuary.

“This environmental issue has plagued our region for generations and this funding will take major strides in helping us address health and ecological challenges we face,” Levin said.

Polluted runoff likely comes from a Tijuana sewage treatment plant in need of upgrades that could cost up to $370 million, a study by Mexican officials found.

The Tijuana River Estuary and shorelines from Imperial Beach to Coronado are often closed to the public after spills on the Mexican side of the border cross into the U.S. via the Tijuana River, especially following heavy rainfall.

Residents have reported skin rashes, headaches and respiratory issues, council officials said.