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Plans for urgent South Bay wastewater plant repairs revealed

Dr. Maria-Elena Giner provided an update on desperately-needed repairs of a wastewater plant in the South Bay
Posted at 4:51 PM, Sep 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-13 19:51:30-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — As calls to fix the sewage crisis in the South Bay continue to intensify, there were some heated moments inside Wednesday morning’s Regional Water Quality Control Board meeting.

“We continue to be woken up by the smell of chemicals and sewage in the middle of the night,” said Paloma Aguirre, Imperial Beach’s mayor, as she read an emotional letter from one of her constituents to the board.

“When is a date when I can go to my beach and swim with my grandchildren?” asked Laura Wilkinson Sinton, a Coronado resident with Stop the Sewage.

In Wednesday’s board meeting, Commissioner Dr. Maria-Elena Giner of the U.S. Section of the International Water and Boundary Commission (IWBC) provided an emergency update to the board and public.

"People care and people are angry. And I can understand why [...] I want to highlight what I can do now moving forward," said Dr. Giner.

The commissioner’s extensive report revealed just how damaged the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant really is.

“The international treatment plant is in even worse shape than I think the public realized,” said Phillip Musegaas, Executive Director, San Diego Coastkeeper. “If we have another winter storm it could be inoperable.”

According to the commissioner, the repairs needed will cost millions.

Mayor Aguirre of Imperial Beach demanded answers from the board: “How did the water board and EPA drop the ball so monumentally on the failures of the IBWC plant?”

The commissioner says repairs could take up to a year. Although some relief should be seen as soon as 30 days. Dr. Giner says repairs are underway now to the Hollister St. pump station which recently spilled 20,000 gallons of sewage into nearby neighborhoods.

Those in attendance on Wednesday implored the water board to secure more funding to help implement solutions.

“We need more resources, more attention,” said Musegass. “We need Governor Newsom to declare an emergency so that the federal government can allocate funds.”

You can review the full IBWC report and estimates for repair here.