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IBWC discusses TJ River Valley pollution lawsuit settlement

Sewage-contaminated runoff in Tijuana River prompts Imperial Beach water closure
Posted at 3:41 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-23 12:08:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has discussed a settlement agreement signed this week following a four-year lawsuit over sewage and chemicals that were polluting local beaches.

The litigation was brought by cities near the border, regional and state agencies, and the Surfrider Foundation.

“We're going to keep being a watchdog on the ground to make sure these infrastructure improvements are put into place,” said Surfrider Foundation Senior Legal Director Angela Howe.

Howe told ABC 10News that they’re pleased with the settlement terms.

“It brings forth direct benefits of water quality to the people that visit the beaches [and the] whole South San Diego region where this issue has been ongoing for decades,” she added.

According to the IBWC, key elements of the settlement include adding a second berm in Mexico to catch any flow breached by the first berm and evaluating whether a berm is needed in the U.S.

There are plans for daily canyon inspection with sandbags to increase diversion and clearing debris after rain. “One of the other requirements is a catch basin to install and collect water quality samples, said IBWC Commissioner Dr. Maria-Elena Giner.

Giner also said that the IBWC will also increase communications.

“[We’ll be] establishing a protocol for notifying Tijuana in terms of trash buildup that we're seeing,” she added.

The agency will also coordinate with Mexican authorities on cross-border investigations and develop plans to reduce the frequency and volume of flow at Steward's Drain.

There will also be an emphasis on water quality monitoring, regularly removing trash from the flood control channel, and expanding the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant starting later this year.