U.S., Mexican officials to launch investigation into sewage spill

Posted at 5:40 AM, Mar 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-03 02:22:34-05

SAN DIEGO - The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) responded to local officials' demands Thursday, announcing a joint-federal investigation into a massive sewage spill near the international border.

Sewage that flowed into the Tijuana River, Tijuana River Estuary, and along Imperial Beach's coast has fouled beaches and other areas of southern San Diego County, according to numerous reports.

The investigation will determine where the spill occurred, quantify how much sewage spilled, specify characteristics of the sewage, identify problems in the commission's procedures. The commission's binational Water Quality Work Group will head the investigation.

The IBWC is responsible for implementing water treaties between the U.S. and Mexico, and settling related disputes.

An earlier IBWC report said roughly 143 million gallons of raw sewage was dumped in Mexico into the Tijuana River between February 6 - 23.  However, Mayor Dedina didn’t hear about it until the 23.

“Rather than let us know and try to stop it from happening, didn’t let us know and that’s unacceptable,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. “Which is why I’ve called for the director of the International Boundary and Water Commission, Ed Drusina, to be fired or resign because of a complete dereliction of duty.”
Lori Kuczmanski, IBWC public information officer, said the IBWC informed U.S. officials as soon as it learned about the sewage spill from Mexican officials.

“We need to make sure the Commission receives timely and accurate information when there are sewage spills in one country that affect the other,” IBWC Commissioner Drusina said.

The news comes just hours prior to a meeting of the IBWC's U.S. Section Citizens Forum.

Over the years, sewage spills on both sides of the border have worsened conditions in the Tijuana River. Aging sewage infrastructure and lack of plumbing in residences in Tijuana have been blamed for the increasing pollution, according to earlier reports.