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Cross-Border Researchers Look For Message In Bottles

Last week's storms drenched Tijuana and forced more than 160 people from their homes. But the rain has helped a group of researchers who want to extend the life of San Diego's Tijuana Estuary.

The researchers have stationed themselves in a Tijuana canyon called Los Laureles.

It's a few miles from the border fence. About 80,000 people live there.

Since Monday, researchers have released more than 160 plastic bottles into the torrents of rainwater coursing through the canyon. That rainwater drains down into the Tijuana River Estuary.

Oscar Romo is the lead researcher on the project. He says they'll map the bottles' final resting places.

"So, the map would show me the plume of both where the solids and trash are going," Romo said.

Romo says that will help create a strategy to reduce storm impact on the estuary and the Tijuana neighborhoods in Los Laureles Canyon.

He says the study will help officials on both sides of the border know what infrastructure is needed to contain trash, sediment and runoff.

Romo hopes to apply the bottle study to other Tijuana canyons that also drain into the Tijuana River Estuary.

By Amy Isackson