The ‘Crisis at the Border’ – every newspaper, tv/cable news show, politician and pundit has an opinion. The residents of south San Diego though are aware of the other, decades long, toxic pollution crisis that exists at the border.
For decades Mexico has allowed raw sewage, tires, plastic and appliance trash, as well as toxic chemical waste to flow unimpeded down the Tijuana River where it then contaminates the beaches of Imperial Beach, Coronado and the Pacific Ocean. At long last residents, community activists, city fathers, mothers and government representatives are taking an aggressive stance to rectify this serious human health and eco-pollution devastation. This is a very complicated problem requiring international cross-border government cooperation and very costly infrastructure construction to rectify.
Extensive lobbying, as well as three lawsuits, are being pursued to address the ongoing Tijuana River Valley (TRV) pollution.
The city of Imperial Beach has initiated one lawsuit against government agencies which is scheduled for a hearing in April of 2020. The city of Coronado is pursuing what is referred to as the diplomatic approach: lobbying California state and federal representatives and the EPA to call attention to, and seek funding and support for, cleaning up the TRV. Coronado has also contributed $50,000 towards the $250,000 Imperial Beach had invested in 2018 lobbying Mexico’s government officials.
The Surfrider Foundation of San Diego is also lobbying and has filed a separate lawsuit. Surfrider’s legal representation is being provided pro-bono. Surfrider has partnered with Dexter Engineering to devise a conceptual solution, which involves public works to improve the infrastructure located at and near the South Bay International Water Treatment Plant (SBIWT). A TRV Stakeholder meeting was held at the Imperial Beach Library on March 14 to explain the conceptual plans. The meeting was conducted by Gabriela Torres of Surfrider San Diego.
Torres introduced Dexter Wilson of Dexter Engineering. Wilson explained the conceptual plan during a 45 minute presentation. Initial costs are estimated to be about $100M with annual $1M in maintenance costs. An overview of the Dexter Engineering proposal is as follows:
A. Infrastructure Components
1. Surfrider TRV Diversion System
2. Detailed Emergency Equipment Protocol
3. Maintenance of the Collectors
4. 4Walls International – Border Impact Bond
B. Policy Components
- Coastal Collector
- Upgrades to Mexican Facilities/Addressing Maquiladores Dumping
- Assessment of International Treatment Plant Capacity vs. Mexico Needs
- Solution to Sludge Produced by the International Treatment Plant
- Concentrated Work with Mexico/United States Mexico Canada (USMCA)
Christopher Harris, retired Border Patrol officer, and retired Secretary Director for Legislative & Political Affairs for the National Border Patrol Council also spoke. Harris described the heinous filth and poisonous conditions endured by Border Patrol officers as well as Navy personnel and SEAL trainees, who perform their duties near the outflows polluting the Tijuana River Valley. All citizens and government officials should be made aware of this critical situation and demand clean-up.
You may view Wilson’s complete video presentation at Surfrider’s Clean Border Water Now facebook page.
Different avenues are being pursued toward the same goal with multiple entities seeking support and funding to rectify the polluted TRV. Hopefully the wider the net is cast, the more productive the results will be.