Millions more gallons of polluted water flowed into the United States this weekend despite the federal commission in charge of monitoring that water saying the flow had stopped Friday morning.
A local Border Patrol union leader said he plans on getting the information directly to the President of the United States.
“It’s obviously this kind of funky sewage smell. It is of decay and sewage, feces.”
That’s how retired U.S. Border Patrol Agent Christopher Harris described the smell of the Tijuana River Valley Monday.
“There’s a serious problem,” he said.
That problem continued to be the runoff and flow of polluted water from Tijuana into the southern part of San Diego County. Pollutants in the water include human waste, chemicals, and diseases.
It is an ongoing problem that is historically monitored by the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). The IBWC sent a message Friday that said the flow of polluted water stemming from a ruptured pipe underneath a Tijuana junkyard ceased Friday morning.
However, the community watchdog group Citizens Against Sewage told NBC 7 that Tijuana River gauges show more than 11 million gallons of polluted water flowed over the border since Friday morning.
“It makes your skin crawl a little bit,” said Harris who spent the latter part of his career speaking on behalf of Border Patrol issues as a member of the local union leadership.
“They are getting ill and injured. We’ve documented. We have pictures of guys with chemical burns on their feet,” he argued. “The men and women of the Border Patrol deserve better. The people that live down here deserve better.”
Harris questioned why the IBWC was able to say the flow stopped Friday morning but didn’t bother to warn anyone that it started again over the weekend. He said agents already take precautions but the knowledge would have added a level of personal security.
“You’ll be a little bit more cautious. There’s other precautions you can take. You can tell people, ‘Hey, you might not want to recreate down there right now,’” he said.
An IBWC spokeswoman confirmed for NBC 7 the flow did restart during the weekend. She could not explain why the commission did not warn anyone in San Diego County. She said a local IBWC engineer is responsible for monitoring the gauges but she never received any information until Monday morning.
“That kind of stuff shouldn’t shut down on the weekend,” said Harris.
Harris, who recently did not seek reelection as the Secretary for his local Border Patrol union, said he will reach out to the leadership for the Border Patrol’s national union. Harris said they regularly meet with President Donald Trump.
“He [the President] has been made aware of the situation and he’s tweeted about it. He’s not happy with it. So, I think we’re going to try to go that route.”
Harris said he hoped pressure from the White House would force the IBWC and Mexico to work faster towards a fix.
In the meantime, the IBWC spokeswoman said one of their engineers was in Mexico Monday observing the repairs to the pipe. However, she said Mexico has not asked for any equipment or help from the United States.
Also on Monday, San Diego County health officials reopened Imperial Beach because the water quality returned to normal. The beach will likely close again during the next heavy rainfall when rainwater would flush the Tijuana River Valley and push the pollutants from Mexico out to the Pacific Ocean.