South Bay parents, children fighting for future of beaches

Posted at 11:30 PM, Apr 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-13 08:16:27-04

South Bay parents are coming together to fight for clean beaches.

Stephanie Pate started the South Bay Clean Water Movement shortly after a huge sewage spill shut down local beaches.

Thursday morning, Pate will deliver more than a 1,000 letters and post cards to Congressman Juan Vargas' office in Chula Vista. The letters are from children and families across San Diego.

"We hope all these letters will show some sort of voice for that," Pate said. "Because that's what we need right now."

The beaches in Imperial Beach are back open, but Pate and many others are still uncomfortable about getting in the water. 

"We want clean water for our children that's all we want for all humans," she said. "No human should have to live like this."

A recent report on the sewage spill showed mixed findings. The International Boundary and Water Commission says 28 million gallons of raw sewage seeped into the Tijuana River in February after pipes in Mexico collapsed during heavy storms.

RELATED: Tijuana water official: Sewage spill numbers were exaggerated

Initial estimates put the spill at more than 200 million gallons, a figure the Imperial Beach Mayor believes is more accurate.

Repairs are underway in Mexico to upgrade the aging infrastructure, but Pate believes it's only a matter of time before it happens again. 

"We've always said they need to fix the problem, they, you know let's rely on them, well today, WE need to be they," said Pate.

For starters, she believes stricter enforcement over clean up in the Tijuana River Valley is needed.

"There's so much sediment and trash right there in front of the IBWC building," Pate said. "At least a 1,000 yards, and their job is to work for the US side."

She also wants improved testing of water quality.

"Possibly implementing a broader water testing, broader water testing, not just testing for the 3 markers of bacteria," said Pate, who said she knows several people who got sick after the sewage spill.

Congressman Vargas' office is their first stop, but Pate said they're considering driving the letters to Governor Jerry Brown's office in Sacramento as well. She's also written to the EPA.

"We hope all these letters will show some sort of voice for that," she said. "Because that's what we need right now."

The group is also planning a march through the South Bay April 29. If you'd like to join the movement, you can contact the organizer through this Facebook page.