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Coronado and Imperial Beach closures affecting businesses and tourism

The county implemented a new DNA based water testing system for water pollution. It's supposed to detect bacteria faster, but has resulted in more beach closures.

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif — Happiness comes in waves, at least that's what people at Coronado Beach and Imperial Beach are saying after visiting this weekend and not being able to get into the ocean.

Imperial and Coronado beaches have been closed for weeks, after the county tested the water and reported that it is contaminated, which creates dangerous conditions for the public.

This has caused frustration, as many have driven to these beaches with hopes of getting in the water, but once they arrive, instead of packed shores they are met with an empty beach and signs that say "keep out."

“They’re strongly recommending that we don’t go in the water,” said Gaby Mendoza, who hosted a family reunion at the beach, only to find out they couldn’t get in the water.

Beach closures come after the county announced South Bay coastal areas continue to be impacted by Tijuana’s sewage flow, causing contamination in these oceans.

Although dirty water closures have been a problem for decades, county officials recently implemented a new DNA based water testing system that gives them faster results.

However, this new testing has caused disagreement with city officials and they are asking the county to reconsider.

“Revert back to the old testing so they can work out the issues instead of using this system that has resulted in much more beach closures. With our binational testing it has been coming up as clean, so we have serious concerns,” said Mayor of Imperial Beach, Serge Dedina.    

Imperial beach has been shut down for 30 days, while Coronado, which was once named the best beach in America, has been shut down for 17 days. 

“It's a shame that the county seems to be oblivious to our concerns. It is also shameful that they are unconcerned and not empathetic about the impacts the closures have had on our region,” said Dedina.

Adding that this new system is hurting local businesses and tourism. CBS 8 witnessed businesses already being impacted by the closures. Kimmy Nolan, who is the owner of Vitamin C Wellness, a health and wellness shop in Imperial Beach said, “it's been weeks of slow business.”

"We've noticed over the past couple of weeks, it's just not as busy as we normally are. If the beaches are close, then people are not going to venture," she added.

While some families have warned their kids to stay away from the water to avoid getting sick.

“It just seems unsanitary, you don’t know what can result from that,” said Mendoza. Others didn’t let contamination keep them from seizing the waves.

In a written statement Vice Nora Vargas says :

For too long our South Bay coastal communities have been disproportionately impacted by the sewage flows into our ocean. Residents, community organizations, and local governments for decades have been fighting to ensure our beaches are safe. San Diego County has been leading the efforts in the region, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the CA Depart of Public Health, Southern CA Coastal Water Research Project, and the State Water Resources Board. We are the first in the nation to launch a new DNA water testing method that takes us from two-day to same-day results for a more accurate picture to inform beachgoers. Testing data has confirmed what advocates have been saying, the beaches of Imperial Beach, Silver Strand, and Coronado shows contaminants in the water. The health and safety of our families, and visitors is our top priority. Our families and children deserve to swim in clean water and should not have to risk their health to enjoy the beach. We know these closures impact our residents, businesses, and visitors and we will do everything we can to ensure our beautiful beaches open in a safe manner to be enjoyed by all. To address this public health care crisis, we secured $300 million in funding for the Tijuana River Valley improvement projects through the USMCA and are working with our state and federal partners to secure another $300 million. We are committed to continued collaboration with community organizations, federal and state partners, as well as the Mexican government to find timely solutions. San Diego County residents deserve better.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego County unveils new water testing technology to provide same-day public warnings (May 2022).


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