IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — Beaches from the border, up along the coast past Imperial Beach and Silver strand remain closed Saturday following a massive sewage spill and run-off after a construction accident south of Tijuana.
Pumping stations were shut down after a 60-inch pipeline was damaged last week. According to a federal agency overseeing the operation, sewage flow across the canyon has been significantly reduced.
Sally Spener, a foreign affairs officer for the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico, said, "So we're now able to capture that flow. It is conveyed to the international wastewater treatment plant along the border, and it is being treated."
Chris Favret, his wife, and two daughters came to Imperial Beach from their home in Clairemont. "We were camping down near the Tijuana River last night and couldn't go anywhere; trails were closed, everything was closed by contamination, so no beach, camping trails, hiking, nothing!"
Favret's wife added, "It is incredibly disappointing for the kids; they wanted to ride bikes; all they wanted to do is drive to the beach this morning, now just gonna look from a distance and enjoy it from afar."
A grandfather and grandkids from the South Bay were staying away, too; they can't go wading; he can't fish from the pier. Ernest Ocariza said he wished these spills would end. "I think they're trying to, but the problem is so many years now, and I believe the government needs to do something about it right away for the future children."
Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre recently spoke with CBS 8 about the impact of the spills and run-off. "Ultimately, it costs us tremendously; it costs us in our public health, the health of our community, environmental health, and our economy, too."
Spener said a half billion dollars had been pledged bi-nationally over the next four to five years, which should help. "We expect to see a 50% reduction in the number of days of transboundary flow and an 80% reduction in the amount of wastewater discharged without treatment at the Mexican coastline, south of the border."
The Sweetwater High School Leo Club members were out filling bags with debris. Their leader is RoseAnita Hernandez.
"We're walking the beach, picking up any micro trash, plastics that are in the sand and trying to clear up the ocean; get it clean," Hernandez said.
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