IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) - A local family claims the sewage spill that is stinking up Imperial Beach is physically making their child sick.
The Vernazzas are one of hundreds of families angry that the problem isn't solved yet.
"I still don't get how they did it or why they did it," said Edel Vernazza.
Vernazza lives across the street from the Tijuana Estuary, where she used to take her daughter for walks. It was their favorite spot, but even the flowers there can't hide a smelly secret.
"First, I thought, 'Oh my god, it smells like a dead body,'" Vernazza said.
There has been 230 million gallons of sewage dumped into the Tijuana River Valley, and Vernazza said the smell is literally making her daughter sick.
"I felt guilty when I found out the situation with the sewage," she said. "Her eyes itching, vomiting; cough, cough, cough, cough."
She added, "Three times in less than a month and a half, I take her to the hospital. First, we thought it was a virus. Second, was her asthma, and now finally the doctor says she has an environmental allergy, which she never had."
The doctor couldn't confirm the cause was sewage, but Vernazza is convinced.
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"We don't even take her to the beach to pick up seashells or anything. It's scary because you don't know what kind of diseases this sewage brings to us," she said.
Down the street, a similar conversation. Surfrider San Diego's No Border Sewage Committee met to look for answers. The group wants to raise awareness, and they say this sewage issue affects the entire county. They now hope to bring national attention to the decades-old problem.
Meanwhile, Vernazza's message to Mexico: "Everybody here has a child. They need to think about those little lives."
A grassroots letter writing campaign has already drafted 400-plus letters to local and state lawmakers.
Some of them even coming from tourists, frustrated the pollution in the South Bay is keeping them out of the water.