Assemblymember Marie Waldron
A study by the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission shows that 35 billion gallons of toxic waste water has flowed across the border through the Tijuana River this year; and more than 100 billion gallons since 2018. Local beaches were forced to close and local businesses and tourism have taken major hits.
On Dec. 1 my office participated in an informational hearing about Cross-Border Pollution called by the Senate Select Committee on California-Mexico Cooperation that was held at the Chula Vista City Hall. Concrete solutions were presented, but they will cost money and require action on both sides of the border. They include:
In the U.S.:
• Double the capacity at the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (ITP)
• Build a new advanced primary wastewater treatment plant to treat water from the Tijuana River
• Direct canyon water flows to the ITP
• Install a river trash boom (to deal with waste tires and other debris)
• Repair the sewage collection system to prevent leaks
• Direct treated wastewater for beneficial uses instead of continuing ocean dumping
• Construct a new Treatment Plant in Tijuana
Unfortunately, the current Tijuana plant desperately needs repairs, funding for those repairs will take time and funding for a new plant is iffy. Tijuana’s continued population growth will only increase pressures on existing infrastructure.
Since 2019, the State Legislature has provided over $30 million to mitigate wastewater pollution flowing into the U.S. The Legislature also supports a federal budget request for $310 million made by Senators Padilla and the late Senator Feinstein to fund upgrades for the Tijuana River Valley. In addition, I have joined San Diego legislators, all 18 county mayors and over 40 community-based organizations calling for state and federal emergency declarations.
This problem can be solved, but it will take commitment to costly major upgrades on both sides of the border.