Environmental Alert: South Bay braces for more sewage flows from - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Environmental Alert: South Bay braces for more sewage flows from Mexico

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IMPERIAL BEACH (CNS) - A coalition of port and South Bay officials plans to announce Friday the next step in its legal strategy to force federal action to stop the "almost continuous" flow of sewage from the Tijuana River into the U.S.

The first step came in the fall when Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and the Port of San Diego were among the entities that filed an intent to sue the agency in charge of U.S.-Mexico water treaties over what they say is federal inaction regarding the tens of millions of gallons of sewage that has fouled South Bay communities.

The announcement is expected to be an update regarding the legal action against the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission.

"There is nothing more important to me and my colleagues on the City Council that we can continue to surf, swim and play on our gorgeous beach that belongs to everyone in the state of California," Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said after the initial legal filing.

Authorities on the U.S. side of the border are frequently forced to close beaches as far north as the Hotel del Coronado following storms, when sewage is driven out of Baja and into American waters.

The Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park are currently closed for swimming following rain this week. County environmental health officials say that the access road to Friendship Park may even be contaminated with Mexican sewage.

A particularly extreme example of the problem came last March after a wastewater collector in Tijuana collapsed and sewage was diverted into the Tijuana and Alamar rivers during repair work.

The breakdown resulted in the flow of at least 28 million gallons of raw sewage from Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, causing a widespread stench and elevated levels of E. coli bacteria in the Tijuana River Valley.

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