Monday, February 26, 2024

Peters, Duncan, and Bailey Pressure Congress to Fund Sewage Infrastructure This Year

Representative Scott Peters (CA-50) took to the House floor to request funding to address the sewage crisis be included in an upcoming spending deal.

Politicians are pressuring Washington to budget an additional $310 million to fully fund repairs to address the Tijuana sewage crisis.

“I’m very hopeful that (the funding) is going to be included in the budget this year,” said Coronado City Councilmember John Duncan. “If it does not, I’m almost positive that it will be included in the budget for next year.”

Duncan traveled to Washington, D.C. this month with Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey to push for the needed funding.

Additionally, on Jan. 11, Representative Scott Peters (CA-50), whose district includes Coronado, took to the House floor to request that the $310 million in funding the Biden administration requested in October be included in an upcoming spending bill.

“Air quality monitors that were recently installed in the region have confirmed what residents have felt for years,” Peters said. “Unhealthy levels of pollution are present not only in the ocean, but sewage that washes up on land, dries up and sends dangerous levels of hydrogen sulfide into the air around people’s homes.”

Duncan said his meetings with politicians during his trip to the capitol exceeded his expectations.

“They were engaged, they cared about it, and they all think it’s a good cause,” Duncan said. “What’s interesting is that it’s a project that’s too big to just be automatically tucked into a bill, but it’s too small to be a top issue discussed in appropriations.”

Duncan said this insight yielded his strategy: To keep reminding Congress of the issue so that it’s top of mind when it comes before appropriations committees. Congress on Jan. 18 approved a short-term spending bill through March 1, avoiding a partial government shutdown and setting a new deadline for this year’s budget as politicians negotiate federal spending.

Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre will travel to Washington next week to continue pushing the issue, Duncan said.

“It’s all a giant negotiation,” Duncan said. “We obviously had an effect. Of course, ultimately, whether you get funding is the ultimate measure of success, but we also had success in that every person we met with listened to us.”

Coronado City Councilmember John Duncan and Mayor Richard Bailey traveled to the capitol to ask Congress to prioritize funding to address the Tijuana sewage crisis. Courtesy photo / John Duncan

Peters’ remarks focused on the impact the sewage crisis has both on area residents and the military.

“Coronado, in my district, is home to the Navy Special Warfare Command, where Navy SEALs train in waters polluted with human feces,” Peters said. “I am proud to represent these brave warfighters, but ashamed we have not done more to protect their health.”

The United States section of the International Boundary and Water Commission has already begun repairs using the funding it has secured, but solving the problem remains hundred of millions of dollars short. Environmental nonprofits sent the IBWC a letter of intent to sue over the issue in late December.

Mexico also has crumbling sewage infrastructure that adds to the issue, and it pledged $144 million to addressing the issue. Construction on the San Antonio de los Buenos Wastewater Treatment Plant in Tijuana began this month.

“(Mexico has) made great strides in the last year on their side of the border,” Peters said. “They have repaired and replaced key infrastructure like sewage pipes that redirect the contaminated water. (…) We should be embarrassed – embarrassed – that Mexico is acting with more urgency than we are.”

Watch Peters’ full remarks:

A view from the Tijuana side of the Mexican border, looking into Imperial Beach beyond. iStock / Photo Beto

Megan Kitt
Megan Kitt
Megan has worked as a reporter for more than 15 years, and her work in both print and digital journalism has been published in more than 25 publications worldwide. She is also an award-winning photographer. She holds BA degrees in journalism, English literature and creative writing and an MA degree in creative writing and literature. She believes a quality news publication's purpose is to strengthen a community through informative and connective reporting.Megan is also a mother of three and a Navy spouse. After living around the world both as a journalist and as a military spouse, she immediately fell in love with San Diego and Coronado for her family's long-term home.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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