South Bay residents are demanding quick answers as international and local leaders work together to solve the sanitation crisis

CORONADO, Calif. – The U.S. sector of the International Boundary and Water Commission met in Coronado Wednesday evening to discuss the ongoing sewage crisis on the Tijuana River.

They plan to work with the district to install new sensors to better collect data on this problem.

“We have, in a sense, relegated ourselves to the status of a third world nation,” shared a concerned resident who attended the meeting because of the constant, notorious smell that permeates the South Bay.

“A lot of money is being spent, but there are no concrete projects to address the problem,” said Leon Benham, IBWC board member and president of Citizens for Coastal Conservancy.

The south San Diego beaches that residents and tourists know are no longer known for their attractions but rather for their closures.

“Tropical Storm Hilary really caused some damage, so we’re trying to repair that,” said Frank Fisher of the International Boundary and Water Commission.

When heavy rain falls, bacteria flow directly into the sea via the Tijuana River.

“We had to boil our own water, this is the first time in my life this has happened,” shared Baron Partlow, the founder of a local group called Stop the Poop, which is known to be fighting the sewage crisis.

Currently, the county Air Pollution Control District is installing AQMesh sensors near the Tijuana River Valley and surrounding areas. The data collected will then be made available to the public alongside other agencies to address the current issues.

One is currently installed in San Ysidro, but residents say it is quite far from where these smells actually originate. They say sensors along the Imperial Beach Pier would be one of the preferred locations.

USIWBC officials say they are currently beginning repairs to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant, which they say could take 9 to 12 months.

But are the changes fast enough? A predicted El Niño year could once again turn too much of a good thing into something harmful in the South Bay.

“Maintenance of this facility has been delayed for years, if not decades, due to inadequate investment and has been in violation since 2019,” Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre said in a statement.

More than $300 million was promised to fix the problem, but that money was stuck in Congress, a key reason a solution has been slow to move forward in the South Bay.

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