SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Contradicting what Baja California officials have been telling residents in Tijuana, Wildcoast, an environmental group based in Imperial Beach, California, is warning people to stay out of the ocean.
According to the group, untreated sewage from Mexico is forcing the closure of miles of beaches in Southern California including the coastline off Imperial Beach and Coronado.
And it believes the city of Tijuana and state of Baja California aren’t being truthful about water contamination levels in the ocean south of the border while allowing beachgoers to go into the surf.
“City officials never go to the beach or the water, they always say it’s open when we’re all suffering due to contaminated beaches,” said Serge Dedina, Wildcoast’s executive director. “They scold us when we tell the truth, but I can’t live by what people in Mexicali are saying.”
Mexicali is the capital of Baja California, where Tijuana is located.
Dedina went on to call the Tijuana and Baja California governments “the worst polluters in North America due to their inability to control sewage spills.”
Dedina was also critical of the lack of investment to fix a sewage treatment plant south of the border, which discharges millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the ocean on a daily basis.
“It’s a scandal and we don’t understand it. It’s such a simple solution, just fix it and create reclaimed water,” said Dedina, who is the former mayor of Imperial Beach.
Dedina stated the contamination is worse than ever.
“In Imperial Beach, we’ve lost the last three years with beach closures and now the problem has extended to Coronado,” he said. “About 30 percent of the San Diego coastline is closed. This is an economic engine — Coronado and San Diego depend on tourism — which creates thousands of jobs for people who also live in Tijuana.”
Rosario Norzagaray, Wildcoast’s marine debris manager, says the damaged sewage treatment plant in Tijuana is discharging 1,700 liters of sewage into the ocean per second every day.
“They only put bleach on the sewage and let it go into the water,” she said.
According to Wildcoast, Tijuana’s beaches are also polluted causing damage to public health on both sides of the border and hurting the tourism industry in Tijuana, Rosarito as well as Imperial Beach and Coronado.