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Tijuana steps up efforts to keep sewage out of U.S.

Posted: 5:59 PM, Jun 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-23 02:06:37-04

(KGTV) -- Tijuana is stepping up its efforts to stop sewage from flowing across the boarder and contaminating San Diego's oceans. But frustrated South Bay residents say it's only a small part of the solution. 

Tijuana recently received a 20 million peso grant (about $997,000) to clean up the 13 kilometers of the Tijuana River channel on its side of the U.S. Mexico border. 

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Tijuana City Councilwoman Ivette Casilla Rivera worked earlier this year to clean up one kilometer, seeing piles of trash - much of it tires. When it rains, the plastic, tires, and other debris in the channel cog pump stations. It sends sewage across the border, leading to beach advisories and closures. 

"The city of Tijuana is really making an effort to protecting the environment," she said at a San Diego Association of Governments meeting Friday. "Only goodwill we can do a lot."

But those who live in the South Bay continue to deal with beach advisories and closures from a different source - the Punta Bandera sewage treatment plant about four miles south of the border.

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina says the plant pumps 40 million gallons of sewage per day into the ocean, just offshore. Currents can bring that into the United States. 

"We've had the growth of the city, they continue to send sewage to the treatment plant, the treatment plant cannot treat it properly, and they're discharging it into the surf zone," said Paloma Aguirre, coastal and marine director of Wildcoast

Lance Rodgers, who lives in Coronado, said it's gotten worse over his eight years living in the Cays.

"The closures are more frequent than they've ever been, the amount of days closed are more than they've ever been," he said. 

Dedina says the Punta Bandera sewage plant needs to be repaired and ultimately replaced. He said that would cost tens of millions of dollars, but the political will is lacking.