Fragile TJ Sewage Facilities Targeted for Major Upgrades

It'll cost more than $400 million to fix what's been spilling raw sewage from Mexico into the ocean at Imperial Beach.

That’s the estimate of State Department experts who met with angry residents at a gathering near the border Thursday night.

They said the first really rainy season in six years had a disastrous domino effect on Tijuana's aging sewage system.

After decades of problems, critics say major upgrades can be put off no longer.

Engineers trace the breakdown that sent nearly 30 million gallons of wastewater flowing into the Tijuana River in early February to the collapse of a 48-inch diameter pipe.

A huge sinkhole developed, and more pipes that couldn’t handle the volume fell apart or were blocked as emergency repairs got under way.

Three dozen pipelines in several other areas were found to be in critical condition.

Beaches were closed in Coronado and Rosarito, Mexico as well as in Imperial Beach

The Border Patrol and Navy SEALS suspended operations in the area, to avoid health risks.

San Diego's Congressional delegation and California's U.S. senators weighed in with federal officials and their Mexican counterparts.

The International Boundary and Water Commission, as part of a remedial program, has ordered the installation of new emergency pumps and creation of so-called "retention basins”.

"They've submitted the funding for it; they assure me these infrastructure upgrades will start as early as this year,” says Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. “ So we're going to hold them to that. We continue to push. This is a regional issue, a national security issue. And we're going to make sure we fix the problem."

"Border Patrol agents are literally freaking out,” Dedina noted during Friday’s recording session for the next edition of NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking” program, which will air Sunday at 5 p.m.

“They're on the front lines of this issue and watching as sewage flows under the border fence through the Tijuana River,” Dedina continued.

“They've really been working with Secretary Kelley, the Homeland Security director and the Trump White House to really push on this issue as well as Congressman (Darrell) Issa and Congressman (Duncan) Hunter."

Dedina said he’ll be meeting with the governor of Baja California and Mexico's environment minister in Tijuana on Monday.

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