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Sewage contamination closes some San Diego County beaches for Labor Day weekend

Posted at 10:33 AM, Sep 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-05 13:33:16-04

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) - It was a picture-perfect beach day on Labor Day around San Diego, but in the South Bay, there were few people were in the water.

On Monday, a 12-mile stretch of shoreline that includes Coronado, Imperial Beach, and the Silver Strand was closed due to sewage contamination, and signs were posted urging people to stay out of the water.

Denise Fombon, who lives in Imperial Beach, said she hasn't been in the water in a year.

"We can't even put our feet in the sand without seeing those warnings. It's holding us back to not being able to enjoy what we enjoyed as kids," said Fombon.

Cross-border sewage contamination from the Tijuana River has been plaguing beaches in the South Bay for decades.

Last week, 20,000 gallons of sewage spilled onto the streets of the South Bay after pumps at a wastewater treatment plant failed.

Some locals said the beach closures are becoming routine.

"They keep saying every year, every year, every year, and nothing is getting done, and it's a lot of pollution. It's not good for the environment or kids or anyone who goes in there," said Chula Vista resident Dolores Sandoval.

A handful of surfers ignored the warnings in Imperial Beach Monday, but most people stayed out of the water.

"Nah, I'm not going in the water. I went in up to my knees, splash around, but you worry more about the little ones," said visitor Jack Forrest.

Several friends visiting from Riverside for a 21st birthday were upset to learn about the closures. They stayed at a beachfront hotel.

"It's actually my birthday weekend. Been out here for four days, and it does stink. It's nasty. We've been very disappointed," said the woman, who did not want to give her name.

"How we staying at a hotel on the beach, but we can't get in the water?" asked another woman.