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Coronado beaches reopen weeks after Tijuana sewage spill

By Felicia Martinez and City News Service, March 5, 2017.

CORONADO, Calif. – Sunday was the first day in several weeks that surfers, swimmers and kids wanting to play in the the wet sand had a green light to touch the Pacific Ocean in Coronado, but miles of beach south of there remained closed due to the huge sewage spill in Tijuana.

Beaches from Avenida Lunar, one block south of the Hotel del Coronado, north to the Navy Base were declared safe Saturday evening by the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health. Testing confirmed that the water quality met state health standards.

But the beaches of Silver Strand, Imperial Beach and the border area remained off limits to water contact due to sewage flows from the Tijuana River.

“The ocean shoreline from the International Border to the north end of Silver Strand at Avenida Lunar will remain closed until sampling confirms these areas are safe for water contact,” the department said in a statement.

International water quality experts were blindsided last month, when a major sewage transmission line in Tijuana was closed for repairs and millions of gallons of raw sewage diverted to the Tijuana River, which flows into the United States at San Ysidro.

South Bay Clean Water Movement hosted an event Sunday called “Letters at the Pier” involving kids and adults writing dozens of letters after U.S. officials estimate 143 million gallons of sewage spilled from Tijuana last month.

“We set up a booth today to invite everybody down to write letters to our reps and we want them to know we want action, we want clean water,” said Molly Goforth with South Bay Clean Water Movement. They plan to mail the letters to representatives this week.

Drone video provided to Fox 5 shows just how widespread the spill has impacted the Pacific Ocean.

“It’s worrisome because it’s all the same water and how do we ensure where we are swimming is still clean,” said Coronado resident Devarae Loomis. “I think the biggest thing is, it’s cleaned up and it doesn’t happen again.”

Currently officials with the International Boundary and Water Commission said they would look into the matter, according to the group Wildcoast. The investigation is expected to last 30 days and results are expected by April 1.

“We want anyone to pay for it, we want clean water,” said Goforth.