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Giant Sewage Spill Occurs in Tijuana; Federal Response to Spill Criticized

Giant Sewage Spill Occurs in Tijuana; Federal Response to Spill Criticized

by Jordan Fabula

On February 6, 143 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into Mexico’s Tijuana River as a result of a rupture in a sewage collector pipe on the Mexico side of the border. The sewage spill is rumored to have been the largest in a decade- perhaps ever- and had not been contained until February 23.

The spill is reported to have occurred near the confluence of Mexico’s Alamar and Tijuana Rivers as repairs were being made on a major sewage pipe in that area, according to the U.S. side of the International Boundary and Water Commission.

Federal officials in both the United States and Mexico have been criticized for not responding properly and quickly to the spill, which was first noticed after people living in an area spanning from Coronado to Rosarito, Mexico made complaints about a foul stench in their area.

“Border authorities charged with managing sewage infrastructure and reporting these spills must do better and be held accountable for this act,” Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said.

Mayor Dedina will seek an investigation into the spill and its aftermath, and has urged U.S. officials to making fixing sewage infrastructure a higher priority.

Both Dedina and San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board head Dave Gibson have alleged that the spill was intentional.

“It saves (the Mexican agencies) a lot of money in pumping costs, and ultimately, they can get away with it and do it all the time, just on a much smaller scale,” Dedina said.

Gibson said about the spill: “At least a notification would be a good neighborly thing to do, to let us know what was coming down the river before it got here so we could alert the public.”

The Water Quality Board states that the sewage may continue its presence along the area’s beaches, depending on how much of it has been flushed out to the ocean by recent storms.

Click here to send a letter to state and local representatives advocating for them to improving the sewage situation in the affected area as well as call for an investigation into why the spill was ignored by federal officials.