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New sewage spill sends millions of gallons of wastewater per day into Tijuana River

Posted at 6:49 AM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 09:49:30-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Photos from the U.S. International Boundary & Water Commission show the latest sewage situation happening at the U.S.-Mexico border and in the Tijuana River.

“So, these two pipelines, which carry the wastewater from Mexican pump station PB1 to down south, was shut down. And this carries about 80 percent of the wastewater generated in Tijuana. So, it’s a lot of volume,” said Morgan Rogers, the Area Operations Manager for the USIBWC’s San Diego Field Office.

Four days ago, the IBWC told ABC 10News one of the two pipes was brought back online after repairs. After a fitting failure on an air vent, a leak sprung in the pipe, causing sewage to spill out, thus eroding the slope which covered a nearby pipe.

“So right now, because these pipelines are out of commission, we are seeing flow down the river,” Rogers said. “I believe we are seeing the flow down the Tijuana River reach the Pacific Ocean yesterday morning. That’s the indications we have. So that will lead to beach closures.”

Rogers said their plant can handle taking on that additional wastewater flow for the time being. However, it’ll impact how they’ll be able to treat the flow as they would normally.

The IBWC said in an update that the remaining wastewater that isn’t flowing to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant is flowing into the Tijuana River at a rate of about 30 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Baron Partlow has been an activist in the imperial Beach area when it comes to the sewage issues stemming from the Mexican side of the border.

“It’s not a question of it’s going to happen. It’s always a question of when with Mexico,” Partlow said.

He said fixes must be had for what’s happening now and what could happen.

“We can’t not do anything about what’s happening right now. And then what we must do is we must plan for generations down the road about what will happen tomorrow,” Partlow said.

The IBWC said Mexico is working on repairs to the pipes.

“They’re focusing on one of those lines right now and the latest estimate is that it might be back in operation early next week. And if so, we should be able to start PB CILA pump station and stop the flow down the river,” Rogers said.

The IBWC shares the frustrations of the community. When it comes to resolving these issues, Rogers said it goes back to replacing the old Mexican infrastructure.

“As far as the USMAC expanded plant, I think that will help but that certainly a couple years away. That we expand the plant I think that they won’t both of those pipelines so we can reduce the reliance on their system. But as far as the immediate, we just need to repair those lines” Rogers said.