A water contact closure issued for the Imperial Beach shoreline due to contaminated runoff from Tijuana was partially lifted Sunday.
Sewage-contaminated runoff from the Tijuana Estuary has been entering the Tijuana River due to the recent rainfall, prompting the water contact closure, the county said.
The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) tested the waters and found contamination was no longer impacting all of Imperial Beaches, allowing them on Sunday to lift the closure from Seacoast Drive to Carnation Avenue.
A water contact closure issued Tuesday for the shorline from Seacoast Drive to the International Border will remain in effect until testing confirms the area is safe for water contact.
Signs will be posted until ocean water is determined to be safe for recreational use.
Sewage spills caused south county beaches to be closed last week as well. Several dead animals were reported to have washed onto Imperial Beach Friday due to the spills, according to U.S. Border Patrol agents.
Justin Viezbicke, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told NBC 7 a dead sea lion and dolphin were discovered on Nov. 3 near Border Field State Park but the animals were badly decomposed, making it difficult to determine their causes of death and whether they died from water contaminated by the spill.
The warning is catching the eye of some visitors, including David Bellomo, a tourist visiting from Arizona. He told NBC 7 on Saturday that he felt it was wiser to stay out of the water, especially with his children in tow.
It didn’t ruin his family’s vacation though.
“We’re happy to be here; it’s nice to enjoy the view and the feel. It could be worse,” said Bellomo.
Despite the signs, some local surfers and swimmers were still getting into the water Saturday morning. A lifeguard told them to get out.
Surfer David Parra still wanted to catch some waves.
“I’ve known it’s been polluted for the last couple of days,” said Parra. “I don’t think it’s so dirty that I can’t surf, (but) I probably shouldn’t.”
He said surfers were upset about the impact on the shoreline.
“I get bummed when I see the signs up. No one wants to surf in nasty water,” Parra added.
Lance Rodgers also said his family was taking precautions at the beach.
“Knowing what I know, I can’t have my children digging and making sand castles, knowing that the soil most likely is contaminated,” he told NBC 7. “There’s a lot being done as far as talking. There’s not a lot being done as far as solutions. The county should declare a state of emergency in the River Valley.”