State parks officials are worried the federal government’s failure to grow plants on slopes where it built new sections of the border fence could mean floods on both sides of the US Mexico border this rainy season. Smuggler’s Gulch is a major area of concern.

About four years ago, the US federal government waived all environmental laws along the US Mexico border in order to build the border fence. The head of the Department of Homeland Security promised, even so, the government would control erosion to protect the Tijuana River Valley and estuary.

Clay Phillips is with the California Parks Department and manages the estuary reserve. He says the bare slopes that run the length of the new fence construction are a stark contrast to the promise.

“You wouldn’t find a Jack In the Box where they’re adding a parking lot that would be left in this condition.”

The federal government has tried to grow plants on the slopes to control erosion without success. Phillips says moderate rain will erode the bare dirt. That could clog the Tijuana Estuary and cause floods in Tijuana and San Diego.

By Amy Isackson