San Diego

South Bay Neighborhoods Join Fight to Keep Raw Sewage Away From Local Beaches

In February, at least 28 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Tijuana River and U.S. waters

Two South Bay neighborhoods may join forces to fight to keep raw sewage away from local beaches. 

Earlier this month, the City of Imperial Beach filed a claim against the International Boundary and Water Commission over sewage spills from Mexico.

In February, at least 28 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Tijuana River, and U.S. waters after a sewage pipe collapsed in Tijuana, according to an earlier report by IBWC. The suit is asking for federal help to address the damaging pollutants.

But the IBWC report also found that 256 million gallons of sewage are unaccounted for from January and February of this year.

Some of that spill reached the shores of Coronado.

Now, residents in Coronado and local environmental groups want to join Imperial Beach in that claim. 

“It sends a strong message if Coronado joins,” said community activist Daron Case.

The message it would send? Case said it would tell officials and residents that "Coronado cares about clean water, and Coronado is willing to fight for the health and safety of its residents, its visitors and for the safety of military personnel who use our beaches.”

Case said the Surfrider Foundation and the state of Arizona won similar lawsuits.

Even months after the toxic spill, concerns remain about the continuous dumping of toxic waste and sewage into the Tijuana River Valley. 

Those who support joining the claim say the problem has gone on for long enough. 

“We're hoping they will go ahead and do what they intended to do, and make sure new sewage plants are built and make sure run off that comes down is trapped, and they take of the mess,” said Bethany Case from South Coast Clean Water.

The Coronado City Council is expected to take up the issue again at its next meeting in September.

One consideration during that meeting could be money.

Daron Case says it could cost Coronado $150,000 to join Imperial Beach in its claim. That would have to be weighed against the merits of the case.

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