Carl DeMaio Unveils Plan To Stop Tijuana Sewage Spills from Contaminating San Diego Beaches
It’s a dirty little secret that the national media refuses to cover and California politicians refuse to address: for decades raw sewage from Tijuana has spilled out onto the beaches and coastal waters of San Diego.
The Tijuana sewage spills have gotten so bad that last year portions of San Diego county beaches had to close a whopping 131 days of the year!
A new plan aims to change all of that by threatening to close the US border with Mexico every day that San Diego beaches are forced to close due to sewage spills from Tijuana. The audacious plan is the brainchild of Carl DeMaio, local taxpayer advocate and candidate for California’s 50th Congressional District.
“Sewage runoff and pollution has been an issue for decades and local politicians from both sides of the aisle in Congress have been too afraid of offending their Mexican government counterparts, that they have ignored the problem,” said DeMaio.
“The unbridled flows of Tijuana’s raw sewage into US waterways poses a national security risk by exposing our military service members and Border Patrol Agents to dangerous chemicals, substances, pollution, and bacteria,” noted DeMaio. “In addition, the negative economic impact is astronomical, not to mention the dangers to the general public health,” DeMaio continued.
Almost 30 years ago through the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), the United States of America and Mexico signed ‘Minute 283’ which explicitly stated:
“…the Government of Mexico will assure that there are no discharges of untreated domestic or industrial wastewaters into waters of the Tijuana River that cross the international boundary, and that in the event of a breakdown in collection or other detention facilities designed to prevent such discharges, the Government of Mexico will take special measures to immediately stop such discharges and make repairs…”
Decades of persistent issues have plagued our region due to the inaction of the Mexican government. A recent report from the North American Development Bank (NADB) showed that while the U.S. has kept it commitments and has provided funding for various projects, Mexico has consistently failed to keep its promises through the IBWC in Minute 283, when it comes to managing wastewaters in the Tijuana River. The United States has absorbed the overwhelming share of costs related to a cross border problem that Mexico should also be financially liable for.
Sewage runoff actively poses a national security risk to our military and military readiness. The U.S. Navy is currently building a brand new $1 Billion training center for our Navy SEALS covering areas along Coronado, Silver Strand, and Imperial Beach. We cannot continue to expose our military service members to this kind of contamination. This is an emergency and ongoing disaster that must be addressed.
To date, six infrastructure projects have been identified in a recent report from NADB:
- Upgrade and optimize current facilities in Tijuana. This would improve flow and waste build-up in water channels ($16 million).
- Install power generators to provide consistent source of electricity, upgrade Tijuana facilities so that they can operate effectively during storms ($24.5 million).
- Increase (double) the flow capacity of existing Tijuana facilities. A project expected to reduce cross-border flows from 138 to 30 days per year ($110 million).
- Create new concrete diversion structure for United States ($27.5 million).
- Create diversion structures with the capacity to also treat water that flows into the United States from the Tijuana River Valley ($48 million).
- Build a single inflatable dam or permanent weir on the U.S-side of Tijuana River ($8.6 million).
DeMaio’s bold three-point solution includes the following:
Reform 1: Clean The Tijuana Toilet Bowl!
- DeMaio says citizens should demand a proven solution to the Tijuana sewage spills, not partial measures that fail to prevent the sewage spills.
- DeMaio is not convinced the 6 proposed NADB projects will solve the problem. DeMaio proposes to issue a Request for Solution (RFS) to private companies to propose innovative solutions to the Tijuana sewage spills. The winning solution would receive an immediate cash prize of $10 million for their concept.
Reform 2: Make Mexico Pay For It!
- As the NADB Report confirms, Mexico has continuously failed to pay its share of costs related to this issue. Therefore, DeMaio proposes that Mexico will pay for ALL costs of the proposed solution that wins the innovation competition in Reform 1.
- What’s worse, Democrats from the San Diego Congressional Delegation recently proposed a $2 BILLION legislative package with NO outline of specific projects to fund, no timelines, and no accountability. DeMaio says this proposal should be rejected.
Reform 3: Shut Down the Border for Every Sewage Spill
- If Mexico refuses to pay and/or if the projects outlined do not solve the problem, DeMaio proposes to shut down the U.S./Mexico border every time sewage from Tijuana River exceeds levels outlined in current agreements. And we will shut down the border until the sewage leak stops or is contained.
- DeMaio will ask President Trump to invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), Title II of Pub.L. 95–223, 91 Stat. 1626, enacted October 28, 1977. This would allow the President to put significant economic pressure on Mexico to complete these projects, similar to what has been done already in regards to the border wall.
- DeMaio will also request that President Trump issue an Emergency Disaster Declaration with Federal Primary Responsibility for the Tijuana River along the U.S./Mexico border under The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707), signed into law on November 23, 1988; amended the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288) This declaration from the president would accelerate federal aid and assistance in a way that has not been done over the past several decades.
- To bypass the federal government and force public debate on the issue, DeMaio is also proposing a Citizens Initiative be filed in San Diego County that would require that the County Health Office declare a quarantine on travel to and from Tijuana for every day that sewage spills occur.