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Sewage smell in South Bay keeps people up at night

Posted at 11:13 PM, Apr 30, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The sewage smell in the South Bay has been so bad in the last couple of days that people tell ABC 10News it has been keeping them up at night.

Signs around town read "Stop the Stink" in Imperial Beach and surrounding South Bay neighborhoods.

However, people who are used to the conditions say the stink has been disrupting people’s sleep.

The smell is part of a decades-long problem as sewage-contaminated water continues flowing into the Tijuana River Valley and our coastlines. The sewage flow regularly forces beach closures due to the contamination.

Marilynn Click lives in Nestor, near Hollister and Tocayo. She’s noticed the smell is affecting her two-year-old's health.

"He was up all night on and off just coughing; I noticed when he started coughing, my eyes are just stinging, watering," Click said

With a 5-month-old and expecting, Click said she worries about the long-term effects of the smell and contamination on her children's health.

The family has lived in their home for 15 years and has invested roughly $20,000 to keep the smell out of their home. They've installed AC with a HEPA filter and sealed their attic, windows and chimney.

The smell also woke Kelly Judkins from Imperial Beach, a few miles away. He thought his plumbing had backed up before realizing the smell was coming from outside.

"I thought my bathtub was full of sewage, raw sewage, that’s how bad it was, in my house with my windows shut," Judkins said.

On Tuesday, the IBWC told ABC 10News there had actually been a decrease in flow, saying it was typical after the rainy season. They explained, however, that when the river’s flow decreases, what’s left becomes stagnant and smells.

The IBWC also said there has been some flow through an area called Smugglers Gulch near Hollister for months. The IBWC says they’re working with Mexico to identify and stop the flow in that specific area.

However, while all levels of government try to figure out a solution, families say they are desperate.