Sep 7, 2023 - Climate

Some movement on a Tijuana River sewage solution

The border wall between Mexico and Imperial Beach

The border wall between Mexico and Imperial Beach. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Beaches remain closed from the border to south Coronado, but a slough of officials in recent days has elevated calls to fund a long-term solution to pollution from the Tijuana River.

Driving the news: Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) announced Tuesday that he and the rest of the county's Congressional delegation sent a letter to House leadership requesting $310 million in an emergency bill to upgrade the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant.

  • The ask follows a letter last week from California's U.S. senators to leaders of the upper house requesting the same $310 million.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom last week also announced a Biden administration commitment to repairing and upgrading the water treatment plant.
  • The mayors of Coronado and Imperial Beach rallied over Labor Day weekend, demanding state and federal attention on the problem.

Why it matters: Cross-border pollution at the county's southernmost beaches presents an ongoing environmental justice crisis that threatens public health and safety and the local economy.

What they're saying: "Securing emergency funding is crucial to rehabilitate and expand the plant in order to protect public health and the environment, and to stop the economic damage cross-border sewage flows have had on our communities for far too long," the lawmakers wrote.

Details: Congress previously allocated $300 million to plant improvements — the latest request is for an additional $310 million to increase the amount of wastewater the plant can treat.

Officials also learned this summer of an additional $150 million in deferred maintenance at the plant, just to keep it operating at its current capacity.


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