South Bay Beaches Reopen After Nearly 2-Week Closure From Tijuana Sewage Spill

A sewage spill caused a nearly two-week-long closure

Beaches in the South Bay have reopened after a sewage spill that caused a nearly two-week-long closure, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) announced Friday.

The beaches from the International Border to the south end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach were closed Feb. 11 following a sewage spill in the Tijuana River. Water quality testing conducted by DEH confirmed that latest spill is no longer impacting these beaches, the agency said.

Water at the shoreline is sampled on a weekly basis in the winter months when the Tijuana River flows more heavily.

According to the DEH, the spill was caused by a failure of a diverter valve. About 600,000 gallons of untreated sewage spilled into the Tijuana River and flowed out into the Pacific Ocean.

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina has threatened to sue the federal government because of the frequent sewage spills affecting his beach city.

"My residents absolutely, unequivocally want me to be as aggressive as possible and our city to be as aggressive as possible to combat this issue," Dedina told NBC 7 days after the most recent spill. "They want to file legal challenges in Mexico as well as the United States. So, we're going to do everything that we can to make sure those who are polluting our water bodies and ruining our way of life are held accountable."

Dedina wants the government to spend more money on infrastructure, particularly the Tijuana sewage infrastructure. He says it's old and it's failing, causing more than 320 sewage spills in the past three years.

Last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, requesting $20 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure program in Pres. Donald Trump's Fiscal Year 2019 Budget.

Feinstein's letter said funding the program will not just improve the quality of life for U.S. communities along the border but also improve the safety of U.S. Border Patrol officers.

More than 80 Border Patrol agents from the Imperial Beach station have reported being sick or injured by the sewage spill from Mexico, according to the National Border Patrol Council Local 1613.

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