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Playa Blanca in Tijuana: closed to swimmers. Playa Blanca in Tijuana: closed to swimmers.

High pollution levels close Tijuana beaches

Tests reveal bacteria levels that are unsafe for swimming

For the second time in less than two months three Baja California beaches between Tijuana and Rosarito have been closed due to high levels of pollution.

San Antonio del Mar, Playa Blanca and Baja Malibú are not suitable for recreation, the Tijuana city council warned local residents.

“Following the protocol of the Tijuana Clean Beaches Committee, over which the city council presides, the beaches must maintain a precautionary closure over a length of 370 meters,” the council said via press release. The municipal fire department will erect corresponding signage.

Spillages of wastewater in the coastal zones are responsible for the pollution.

A range of government agencies including the binational International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), the National Water Commission (Conagua) and the Navy Secretariat will now work with state and local authorities to reestablish safe sanitary conditions along the affected coastline.

The Baja California Health Secretariat reported that for ocean water to be considered suitable for swimming it must have less than 200 units of enterococci bacteria per 100 milliliters of water.

However, the recommended levels have been exceeded consistently along the section of coast where the closures are now in force, according to the president of the environmental group Proyecto Fronterizo de Educación Ambiental.

Margarita Díaz said that its monitoring results show that there are significant challenges in terms of water quality in the Tijuana area and that all three levels of government need to cooperate to address the problems.

“. . . It’s not the jurisdiction of one level of government, but of [all] three because the municipality authorizes land use [and] construction, the state manages water and drainage with the Public Services Commission (Cespt) and the federal government has to be vigilant over the regulations that the law sets,” Díaz said.

She also called on the public to support the work that the activist group carries out by helping to fund the laboratory where it tests water quality. Around US $30,000 is required to enable it to continue with its independent water testing work, she said.

“We are doing an ‘I love water’ campaign because this laboratory is a citizens’ effort . . . we need the support of the public,” she said.

Poor ocean water quality has been a recurring problem in the region and pollution has affected both northern Baja California and southern California in the United States.

In August, the mayor of Imperial Beach, California, threatened to take legal action against the IBWC after a discharge of sewage in the Tijuana River caused serious pollution and health problems in the U.S. while another sewage spill earlier in the year prompted a binational investigation.

Source: Reforma (sp), Unimexicali (sp)

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