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A sign warns Imperial Beach, California residents about water contamination originating from Baja California. A sign warns Imperial Beach, California, residents about water contamination originating in Baja California.

Raw sewage from Mexico continues to pollute California beaches

'Everyone on the city council has gotten sick'

Raw sewage from Mexico continues to pollute the ocean and coastline north of the border in southern California, a problem that has persisted for decades.

Last year, Tijuana and Baja California authorities completed some repairs to antiquated sewage infrastructure in the northern border city, and officials said at the time that the cross-border pollution problem had been resolved.

But the apparent fix only lasted a few weeks, according to the news website Border Report, which said that 113 to 151 million liters of raw sewage is currently flowing every day from Mexico into the Tijuana River Valley and out to the Pacific Ocean north of the border.

“They make repairs here, they make a repair there, and the tendency is to make a big claim: ‘We fixed it, we fixed the issue,’” said Paloma Aguirre, a member of the city council of Imperial Beach, a San Diego county city just north of the Mexico-U.S. border.

She said more than 2 million people in Tijuana are using a sewage system built in the 1940s and that it can’t keep up.

“We have an ongoing sewage and public health crisis related to the sewage for the better part of the last 30 years,” Aguirre said.

In a report published Tuesday, Border Report said that beaches just north of the border are closed because of high levels of fecal coliform.

Aguirre said that she and her city council colleagues have become ill as a result of the sewage flowing across the border.

“You’re living exposed to these pollutants. I myself have gotten sick, gone to urgent care. Everyone on the city council has gotten sick. It affects overall quality of life in this community,” she said.

A few weeks ago, the United States Congress paved the way for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to oversee efforts to clean up the Tijuana River Valley and minimize the effects of sewage spills.

However, help is still a few years away, Border Report said, noting that resources for cleanup projects will be provided via the new North American free trade pact, the USMCA, which took effect last July.

Source: Border Report (en) 

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