For the past few weeks, residents of Imperial Beach and other coastal communities in South San Diego have been complaining of a foul stench emanating from the Pacific Ocean and the Tijuana River. According to a report released last Friday, the cause of this miasma was the result of a 143-million gallon sewage spill into the Tijuana River, one of the worst sewage snafus the area has seen in over a decade.
According to a report released by the International Boundary and Water Commission, the spillage started February 6th, during the restoration of a sewage collector pipe and wasn’t contained until last Thursday, the 23rd. The disgusting deluge poured out into the ocean and flowed north, prompting beach closures from the border to Coronado.
The Tijuana river spewing a repulsive amount of polluted water into the Pacific Ocean isn’t anything new. Thanks to smaller sewage spills on both sides of the border, along with Mexico’s poor wastewater management infrastructure, human waste and disease normally flows out of the Tijuana Rivermouth and into the surrounding surf breaks (see: Tijuana Sloughs and IB sandbars) during winter storms and currents, creating one of the most contaminated coastal zones in the state. For about a third of most years, the surrounding beaches are closed to surfers and swimmers due to the excessive grossness floating around in the lineup.
Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina told Fox5 News that he’s worried the appropriate measures weren’t taken to contain the spill. “There is a difference between rain-related runoff, which we all get in San Diego, and the deliberate spilling of sewage for 17 days,” Dedina told Fox San Diego.
Dedina also criticized authorities in both the U.S. and Mexico for not alerting people of the spill or warning them to stay away from the water. “We asked authorities to let us know what was going on and we just heard no response,” Dedina said.
In a statement Saturday, Dedina said that he would be pushing an investigation into the spill, and also called for the resignation of Edward Drusina, chief of the international water commission, for his lack of attention to this problem. “Border authorities charged with managing sewage infrastructure and reporting these spills must do better and be held accountable for this act,” Dedina said in the statement.
In the meantime, surfers and swimmers are advised to stay the hell away from the water in this area and urged to find waves more north–once the rain stops pouring down on Southern California.