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Crews clean clogged Tijuana River channels

TIJUANA RIVER VALLEY – Emergency permits in hand, crews are cleaning out clogged Tijuana River channels that in December caused nearby ranches and farms to flood and animals to drown.

The San Diego City Council last month declared a local state of emergency for the river valley, which allowed the city to spend up to $4.4 million to clean out the river and channels choked with sediment, vegetation and debris.

But the work couldn't begin until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the cleanup plan.

That approval came this week.

“I'm confident the work will make a difference,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders Friday at a news conference Friday in the river valley where horses and goats drowned. “This is a short-term solution. We're working on a long-term solution with a master clean-up plan. We'll take care of it annually.”

Last December, storms caused the river and channels to overflow. Some blamed the clogged river and channels on a border fence built along a large earthen berm that lacks drainage and erosion controls. Other blamed a combination of debris and trash from Mexico and sediment from the fence.

River-valley horse and property owners say with the rainy season approaching, they are relieved the work has begun.

“It's about time,” said ranch owner Dick Tynan. “It's way past due.”