Money for sewage treatment along California-Mexico border on its way

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Sewage from Mexico often ends up north of the border along the Tijuana Rive Valley. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Money has been allocated to construct and upgrade wastewater infrastructure along the Tijuana River Valley just north of the border in San Diego County.

The announcement was made Tuesday.

For decades, sewage, trash and other debris originating in Tijuana has ended up in the Tijuana River, which ultimately discharges into the Pacific Ocean, oftentimes closing beaches on the U.S. side near the border and in the community of Imperial Beach.

Over the last 40 years, facilities have not been able to keep up with sewage and trash, especially during storms.

The waste is also considered harmful to the wildlife in the Tijuana River natural habitat.

Reportedly, renegade sewage spills are very common occurring 138 days out of the year.

San Diego County officials said they believe the improvements will shrink that number to 12 days per year, a 91% reduction.

The county proposed three strategies to deal with the substantial overflow.

The first method is to treat the contaminated water and then pump that water deep into the ocean through the South Bay Ocean Outfall system.

The second strategy is to simply pump the raw wastewater far into the ocean through a system of pumps and long pipelines.

The third proposal is to create in-stream basins, which would trap trash and sewage to be later collected.

In a Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018 file photo, a couple walk along the beach as signs warn of contaminated water at Imperial Beach, Calif. The San Diego region will get $300 million in federal funding for a new U.S. facility to capture sewage spills from Mexico before they foul shorelines north of the border. The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, the money will be allocated thanks to language included in the overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by President Trump on Jan. 29. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

The report has been sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, which committed up to $300 million from the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement toward the U.S.-Mexico wastewater issue.

San Diego County officials hope the EPA oversight committee will use those funds toward the outlined projects.

“Our county has been at the forefront of finding solutions to the persistent sewage problems in the Tijuana River Valley, and this study goes a long way to achieving that,” San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox said.

“Thanks to my colleagues at the federal, state, and local level who have all worked tirelessly to advocate for and secure this federal funding, we are now ready to work with the EPA to identify the projects that will have the most impact in capturing, diverting and treating sewage so that we can finally reclaim and enjoy our beaches in the South Bay.”

The International Boundary and Water Commission also announced Tuesday that a pump station with a long history of mechanical issues will be rehabilitated, thanks to a $3.6 million grant from Mexico’s National Water Commission.

Visit the BorderReport.com homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the United States-Mexico border.

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