Port, South Bay cities sue federal government over Tijuana sewag - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Port, South Bay cities sue federal government over Tijuana sewage spills

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A surfer rides a wave in Imperial Beach in San Diego, Calif., Friday, March, 2, 2018. Local governments in the San Diego area have sued a U.S. agency to stop sewage from spilling into the country from Mexico. A surfer rides a wave in Imperial Beach in San Diego, Calif., Friday, March, 2, 2018. Local governments in the San Diego area have sued a U.S. agency to stop sewage from spilling into the country from Mexico.

IMPERIAL BEACH (CNS) - The Port of San Diego and two South Bay cities on Friday filed a lawsuit against the federal government to force action to stop the "almost continuous" flow of sewage from the Tijuana River into the U.S.

Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and the port filed the suit against the federal agency in charge of U.S.-Mexico water treaties and the private operator of a treatment plant that serves Tijuana for allegedly violating two U.S. laws that protect water quality and public health.

Local officials say they're dissatisfied with the federal response regarding the tens of millions of gallons of sewage that have fouled South Bay Communities, forced the closure of beaches and sickened people.

"The ongoing sewage spills causing beach closures and making people sick in Imperial Beach are an environmental and human disaster and it's getting worse, with 28 beach closures since January 1. We are filing this lawsuit as a last resort," said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. "We encourage other communities and interested parties to join us in finding a permanent solution to what might be the worst ongoing environmental violations in the United States."

The plaintiffs last fall filed an intent to sue the agency, the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, and the company, Veolia Water North America, for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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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