IMPERIAL BEACH, California (Border Report) — “Keep out of the water” signs are strung out along 15 miles of coastline from the border all the way up to Coronado, warning beachgoers about contamination due to sewage in the ocean.
They’ve been up for weeks because of an ongoing release of sewage from a broken-down treatment plant in Tijuana that releases effluent at a clip of 40 million gallons per day, said Paloma Aguirre, an Imperial Beach City Council member and avid surfer.
“Everybody is wondering why are we having beach closures, the Tijuana River isn’t flowing. It’s because there is a sewage treatment plant that is completely outdated and it hasn’t worked for two decades south of Playas de Tijuana, causing daily beach closures here in Imperial Beach,” Aguirre said. “The entire Memorial Day weekend was closed. In fact, today the beach is closed all the way up to Coronado, so it affects all of us regionally because it’s not just our beaches — Imperial Beach beaches are National City’s beaches, Chula Vista’s beaches, South San Diego beaches and it’s really frustrating.”
Aguirre said the beach closures affect the quality of life in her city, its economy, and the health and well-being of residents.
She blames the Mexican government for “not stepping up to the plate and providing funding to fix its sewage treatment plant.”
“On a lucky day, the current will go south, but on an unlucky day, or in this case weeks, the currents will be coming south to north and will impact our beaches.”
Aguirre says as long as repairs are put off, the sewage will continue going into the Pacific Ocean and closing down beaches north of the border.
“People in Mexico are also affected, but they only test the water once or twice a year, so you have people constantly swimming in polluted water without ever knowing, and it even affects ex-pats and U.S. visitors to Baja.”