Entrance to the San Antonio de Los Buenos sewage treatment plant at Punta Bandera. Photo: The San Diego News Tribune

By Joshua Emerson Smith
1 November 2017

(Los Angeles Times) – Officials in Imperial Beach said Wednesday that sewage flowing up the coast from Tijuana fouled miles of shoreline over the weekend, severely sickening surfers and other beachgoers.

Mayor Serge Dedina, who also fell ill, said he received no advance notice from officials in Mexico about the pollution.

"We're doing everything we can to build our relationship with Mexico, but if they're going to be continually dumping sewage on us and making our council members and our community sick, it's hard to continue that positive, proactive approach," he said Wednesday at a news conference.

The State Public Service Commission of Tijuana, or CESPT, a state agency that operates the city's sewer and water delivery system, did not respond to a request for comment.

Officials with the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC, said they received word from the agency's Mexican counterpart, CILA, that there was no report of a spill.

"We did speak with Mexico, and we got through to CILA, and they said there's no information regarding a spill," said Lori Kuczmanski, spokeswoman for the IBWC, which oversees water treaties between Mexico and the United States.

Spearheaded by Dedina, an effort is building throughout the county to take the IBWC to court to force the federal agency to ramp up pressure on Mexico to stop the sewage spills. Imperial Beach and Chula Vista — as well as the city, county and port of San Diego — have now all filed an intent to sue the agency.

"Right now, we don't seem to have any help in our United States government in combating these sewage flows and protecting public health," Dedina said.

The Tijuana-based environmental group Border Project for Environmental Education did independent water testing on Friday, and leaders of the organization said they found "extremely high" levels of fecal indicator bacteria in the coastal Playas de Tijuana region.

The group has pointed to the deteriorating San Antonio de Los Buenos sewage treatment plant at Punta Bandera as the likely source of the pollution. [more]

San Diego-area surfers and beachgoers sickened after Tijuana sewage spill, officials say



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