During the 17 daylights that 140 million gallons of raw sewage moved from Mexico into the Tijuana River and then into the ocean fronting various favourite South San Diego parishes , no Mexican official disclosed the potential health and environmental hazards.
Despite the stillnes when the run embarked Feb. 6, some 200,000 those who live in South San Diego, Imperial Beach and Chula Vista knew there was something amiss. Even a mile away from the Tijuana River we are able to smell the eye-watering, throat-burning, overwhelming smell of raw waste. Theyd eventually read this was the worst waste spill in the region in a decade.
The spill resulted in several miles of beaches being closed for five to six weeks from the Mexican border north to the city of Coronado. One beach by the border is still closed.
For San Diego, which is defined by the interrelationship with the ocean, this kind of massive waste pour across the border is undesirable, U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat who represents some of the affected districts, told Fox News. From surfing, to the Navy and Marine Corps presence, it drives our way of life and large parts of our economy.
The U.S. International Boundary Water Commission, which operates under the U.S ./ Mexican Water Treaty of 1944 to oversee hygiene, liquid excellence and submerge self-restraint in the border field, is probing the recent sewage spill, and why Mexican wastewater experts didnt report it even as waste was visible into the sea and beaches.
We need cooperation on both sides of the border for this investigation to get all of the answers on how this waste shed happened. Then we can figure out how to apply assets across the border to prevent it from were to happen, Peters said.
Serge Dedina, mayor of Imperial Beach, a working class beach community whose borderline abuts the Mexican mete, said it was annoying the spill hadnt been reported, even though it could blow the lives of beachgoers, surfers, those use the many courses through South San Diego for biking or hiking and the small business owners that move the many organic farms, ranches and equestrian hubs along the border.
We never had anything like this such consistent disorders and span of the reek, this is why we knew it was a fairly serious problem, Dedina said to Fox News.
But this isnt a one-time instance — Dedina deals with the waste troubles that flow from Mexico every single daylight. A lifelong resident of Imperial Beach, Dedina has been working seriously on the sewage topic since 2004. Since becoming mayor two years ago he has worked daily on the problem. He is considered one of the leading experts on the matter.
The real issue is that this consistently happens, “they dont have” accountability, there is very little opennes and almost no commitment to fix the problem, Dedina said.
Mexican sewage flows into the U.S. in two ways. Between 30 and 40 million gallons of waste are discharged every day onto the beach from Mexicos Punta Banderas sewage treatment plant six miles south of their own borders, and during south grows and south winds, the waste bathes up on U.S. beaches, Dedina said.
We assume everything is good, and then go in the liquid, and then realise too late, we are awash in waste. It is the worst feeling ever, answered Dedina, an avid surfer. Last summer, we had some of the most difficult consistent flowings of sewage across national borders that we ever experienced.
The second space Mexican sewage flows into the U.S. is from the Tijuana River. About 15 million gallons per day of treated sewage exhausted into the Tijuana River, Dedina articulated.
There is a diverter pipe in the Tijuana River operated in Mexico just before the border that in theory should be turned on all the time but if there is an electrical outage or it breaks down, which happens frequently, then the Tijuana River flows into the U.S. and can pollute our beaches, Dedina supposed.
The International Boundary and Water Commission reports Mexico has no strategy or timeline at all to turn on the diverter tube, Dedina announced, which represents the river of treated sewage will flow freely into the U.S.
Border Patrol Agents who work along the Tijuana River have been impacted by the dust and reeks. A decade ago, the National Border Patrol Council, which is the exclusive representative of some 2,400 Border Patrol agents, filed a related lawsuit and fought for hazard pay for the agents in San Diego.
We have had have had some complaints from agents about experiencing sick or disgusting because of the sewage pour, strengthened uniting chairman Terence Shigg , mentioning the union could take farther when the performance of the recent environmental tests are returned.
Imperial Beach adjoins Coronado, which has a large armed proximity. The Navy SEALs allows one to train in Imperial Beach, but because of health concerns the Navy relocated the training, Dedina said.
Besides being home to the famed large-hearted ripple channel-surf spot known as the Tijuana Sloughs, Imperial Beach is surrounded by stunningly beautiful wildlife sanctuary sanctuaries. But last year when it rained, sewage inundated the estuary and the thousands of leopard sharks, among other sea animals, died.
Dedina advocates there should be a river administration plan, brand-new and upgraded infrastructure and regular river cleanups.
In the last week there has been some good information, Dedina did. The Mexican federal government and the governor of Baja have joined the effort to upgrade the sewage system in Tijuana, which will be funded partly by the U.S. taxpayers through the North American Development Bank and partly by the Mexican federal government.
This is a big step, Dedina said.
Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on felony, homeland security, illegal migration misdemeanour, terrorism and political dishonesty. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman