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Effort to Block Emergency Cleanup of Tijuana River Valley Fails

SAN DIEGO - An effort to halt the city's emergency work to clear clogged flood control channels in the Tijuana River Valley to prevent flooding in advance of winter rains was rejected today by a judge.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor denied a temporary restraining order sought in conjunction with a lawsuit by attorney Cory Briggs, who argued the project didn't comply with California's environmental laws.

At a morning hearing, Taylor found that the flood control project met an exemption for emergencies in state environmental law, according to Alex Roth, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Sanders said he was "gratified" by the judge's decision.

"Last year, with just two inches of rain, we had a very dangerous situation where we lost livestock and nearly lost some of the ranchers down there," Sanders said.

"If it hadn't been for our swift water rescue team, there probably would have been loss of life, and we want to avoid that this year," he said. "That's why we have an emergency situation."

Last week, work began to remove trash, debris, sediment and overgrown vegetation from clogged flood control channels in the Tijuana River Valley. The work is expected to be completed by Feb. 15.

The San Diego City Council declared a state of emergency for the Tijuana River Valley last month and authorized $4.4 million in stormwater funds to dredge the drainage channels.

Last winter, floods inundated the Tijuana River Valley with contaminated water, caused substantial property damage and contributed to the death of horses and other livestock.