Sewage Contamination Closes Imperial Beach

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jul 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-09 22:06:23-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) Sewage contaminated water is keeping swimmers out of the ocean in Imperial Beach.

Late Tuesday afternoon, The County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health extended an existing water contact closure to include all of Imperial Beach.

The original closure was issued on June 27th for the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge shoreline.

According to the county, sewage-contaminated runoff in the Tijuana River has been entering the Tijuana Estuary.

Eric Syverson is a life long resident of Imperial Beach. He keeps a close eye on what's happening in the Tijuana River Valley.

"It was dry on Saturday, not dry on Sunday. Monday, we wondered what was going on and now, Tuesday, there was quite a bit of flow this morning and it just smelled horrible and it’s green,” said Syverson.

The water was pooling under the bridge on the north side of Dairy Mart Road.

"At six a.m. this morning, probably double the volume that’s flowing right now and the air was twice as bad, you couldn’t breath under this bridge this morning," said Syverson.

According to a San Diego inspector with the International Boundary and Water Commission, there was transboundary flow Monday night into Tuesday morning from a ruptured potable water line. The IBWC estimates 300,000 gallons of treated and untreated wastewater flowed into the U.S. Initially, the IBWC said the figure was much higher; roughly two million gallons. The number was revised after the inspector determined their gauging station was not accurately recording the flows.

Members of Citizens Against Sewage are skeptical.

"I’m looking at the gauge data from the river gauge from IBWC's information. We put values on those numbers that they provide, and it’s over seven milllion gallons,” said Lance Rodgers, Co-Founder of Citizens Against Sewage.

This is just the latest in a series of sewage spills that have closed South County beaches.

"There were flows on the second, there were flows on the 30th, the 28th, 24, 23, 20, 19 it’s been a bad month,” said Syverson.

Syverson said it's the same problem with no solutions from either side of the border.

"I mean, why should we even have to think about it. It's July 9th, we should be at the beach right now, going "God, look at how gorgeous this area is," not standing in a horrible valley wondering how to solve a problem that’s existed for my entire lifetime," said Syverson.

The county will continue taking water samples Wednesday morning, but it takes twenty-four hours to get back the results.