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San Diego leaders say $300M secured for Tijuana sewage solution

Posted at 10:52 AM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 14:05:26-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - Several San Diego-based political leaders gathered at Chula Vista's Bayside Park Friday to announce a $300 million investment in cleaning the Tijuana River Valley on the U.S. side of the border.

U.S. Reps. Mike Levin, D-Oceanside, Susan Davis, D-San Diego, Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, Scott Peters, D-San Diego, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer took turns discussing the funding in the international agreement to fund the Border Water Infrastructure Project (BWIP) to address pollution in the Tijuana River.

Levin said the law signed Wednesday by President Trump, referring to the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), earmarked every dollar for the San Diego region.

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox said it was the military impact that caught the attention of the president.

"If you look over my right shoulder, there's a billion dollars that the U.S. is investing in the SEAL training facility. They can't train all the time because of the sewage that comes up onto the beaches. Also, the Border Patrol is traipsing through all sorts of bad stuff in the Tijuana River Valley," Cox said.

Cox added they have a plan for a canyon collector to help with water runoff.

Cox went on to say that politicians would meet March 9 with the Environmental Protection Agency in Coronado to present their plan.

"We are focusing on a 163 million gallon a day sewage treatment facility to be built on the U.S. side of the border," he said.

In another investment in the deal, the U.S. is putting $1.5 billion into a transnational bank that Mexico will match, according to Cox, so they can create solutions on the Mexican side of the border.

Levin was confident the pact was a huge win for San Diego, saying in the past only $15 million was dedicated to the problem, and San Diego had to compete with Texas for the money.

The USMCA would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect in 1994 and is blamed by some politicians on both sides of the aisle for hastening outsourcing and the decline of the country's manufacturing industries. Congressional Democrats have held up the deal in the House until coming to an agreement with the White House to strengthen its labor and environmental standards.

Local business leaders and elected officials have sung the deal's praises for months, arguing that inter-border commerce is too vital to the San Diego region to sever trade relations between the U.S. and Mexico.

According to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, trade between Mexico and San Diego has fostered a $2.5 billion supply chain and more than 100,000 jobs. Annual trade between California and Mexico is valued at roughly $73 billion.

City News Service contributed to this report