Feb. 27, 2018 7:00AM UPDATE: It began raining last night and the rain is expected to continue intermittently through the day today. As a consequence, the pump station on the Mexican side of the border (CILA) was shut down at approximately 1:30 am. As of this morning, flow was estimated by Ginger Sacco of Citizens Against Sewage to be approximately 44 million gallons. That number will rise as long as CILA is down, which would likely be until the rain stops. We will update our readers of the total flow when the rain stops and the pump station comes back on-line.
According to Ginger Sacco from Citizens Against Sewage, there was another spill in the Tijuana River last night, from 10:15 pm – 4:15 am this morning. Sacco estimates that 1,185,624 gallons of wastewater passed by the gauge. She knows this because she monitors the International Boundary and Water Commission’s (IBWC) river gauge which indicates whether or not there is flow in the river (which there should only be in times of rain).
The river gauge on the Tijuana River is critical to knowing when or whether there has been a spill from Mexico. But, it is not definitive. It is in a single spot, but waste can go into the river at any number of places including canyons that bypass the gauge.
The USIBWC San Diego Area Operations Manager responsible for monitoring the gauge is Carlos Pena. Sacco sent him an email early on Sunday morning when she noticed that the gauge had not been reporting for a 24-hour period from 9:30 am on February 24 to 9:45 am the following day.
Since the gauge is so critical, even if not all-informative, it would seem that this email would have triggered a look. Only this morning, at 8:54, did Pena respond. He confirmed Sacco’s estimate of 1.1 million gallons and indicated that he is now in contact with Mexico to determine the cause.
Sacco estimates that we have seen 1.3 billion gallons of spillage so far this year (including 19 million gallons so far in February). That is vastly more than the major spill in February of 2017 of 256 million gallons.
The relentlessness of the spills should cause a greater sense of urgency this week as Coronado city officials, Mayor Bailey, Council member Benzian, and City Manager, Blair King meet with politicians in Washington, DC.