San Diego

Sewage Runoff from Tijuana River Affects South County Beaches

Contaminated water from the Tijuana River has washed dead animals onto San Diego beaches, according to U.S. Border Patrol officials.

A water contact closure was issued Tuesday by the Department of Environmental Health for the shoreline of the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park due to contaminated water, according to county of San Diego.

The beach area from Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach to the International Border is included in the closure. Signs will be posted until ocean water is determined to be safe for recreational use, according to the county of San Diego.

Raw sewage may also impact the access road to Friendship Park, and visitors are advised to avoid that area.

Sewage spills caused south county beaches to be closed last week as well. Several animals were reported to have washed onto Imperial Beach Friday due to the spills, according to Border Patrol agents.

Agents reported a dolphin, sea lion and two seals were found dead on the shore.

The Tijuana sewage spills are a familiar problem to San Diegans along the coast, and this newest incident renews concerns for activists.

“We are very frustrated,” said Fay Crevoshay of Wildcoast, an environmental non-profit to preserve marine wildlife. “Sometimes I could say desperate. Desperate because we really want to solve this problem. And it’s not rocket science.”

Justin Viezbicke, the standing coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told NBC 7 on Thursday that two dead animals were found in Imperial Beach: a sea lion and a dolphin.

He said the Southwest Fisheries Science Center discovered an adult female sea lion near Border Field State Park on Nov. 3, as well as a bottle-nosed dolphin. Both the sea lion and dolphin were badly decomposed and Viezbicke said that makes it difficult to determine the animal’s cause of death – whether it stemmed from the sewage spill or natural causes.

Viezbicke said an adult female sea lion was also found dead in La Jolla Tuesday, but that animal appeared to have suffered shark bites and its death is likely unrelated to the sewage spill.

Tijuana officials also would not confirm if the sewage spill killed the animals, according to Wildcoast.  

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