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After opening for a week, beaches near San Diego border closed again

Sewage-contaminated runoff in Tijuana River prompts Imperial Beach water closure
Posted at 2:13 PM, Jul 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 13:02:36-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - After being open for only one week, the ocean shoreline near the border was closed again Sunday because of sewage contamination, San Diego County officials said.

The closure affects all of the ocean shoreline at Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park, officials said Sunday.

Ocean water samples exceeded state health standards, according to the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and Quality.

There are signs forewarning about the sewage contamination and the beach closure at the entrance of Imperial Beach, a sight that is no stranger to those who call the shoreline home.

On Sunday, some swimmers who had just enjoyed a swim in the water, thought twice, about their decision. One of those swimmers was Ashytn Bell who was visiting from Pittsburgh, "Now that I am hearing about it, kind of regretting it."

His friend, Alexis Mendoza shares, "At least I know now, I'll be a little more careful just wet my feet or something."

There are others like Adam Hernandez who has lived at Imperial Beach his whole life, "I mean living here is great, I love living here, I love the community, but we do have a lot of issues with the beach being polluted."

Within just a week of the waters being cleared, it is closed once again. This closure makes it the fourth time this year that the beach has been closed due to sewage contamination.

For Hernandez it's no surprise, "There is always talk about it getting cleaned up and efforts being made to help clear it out but we just keep seeing the same thing over and over."

At the end of 2019, the United States, Mexico Canada trade deal promised $300 million to go towards long-term projects that would address the contamination issue. In 2020, the EPA announced short term projects to help keep the beaches open.

According to ABC10's previous reports, construction for the short term projects is expected to take place sometime in 2023. As for the millions? There is still no decision on how the money will be spent, nor a timeline or plan for what exactly the project/projects will entail.

Meaning that for now, the pollution is still a problem, "You hear people talk about Imperial Beach and a lot of the comments will be like 'ugh it's nasty down there'," shares Hernandez, "And it just brings a bad stigma to it and makes the businesses suffer because people already have the idea that it's not the best place to come visit, when it's actually a fun little town to come too."

The closure includes all beaches from the international border to the south end of Seacoast Drive. Closure signs will remain in place until ocean water sampling results meet state health standards for recreational use.

ABC10News did reach out to the EPA to see what the latest progress is, but we have yet to receive a response.

Just last Saturday, officials lifted a water contact closure after testing showed the ocean water was safe for recreational use. A water contact closure was issued June 24.

The Tijuana River enters San Diego County from Mexico and flows through the southernmost part of the county before it empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Sewage-contaminated runoff that enters the river in Mexico may be moving north along the San Diego County shoreline, according to a statement in June from the health agency.