CORONADO, Calif. — It's Memorial Day weekend. It's a time when families enjoy the beach, but you can't get in the water in Coronado. There are plenty of signs that say, "Keep Out! Sewage Contaminated Water."
"What do we want? Stop the poop!” When do we want it? Now!” yell ralliers Saturday.
People living in Coronado, visitors, and tourists are urging elected officials to take action.
"We're furious. We're angry. Everyone is coming to the beach, and our beaches are closed due to pollution," said community activist Laura Wilkinson Sinton.
"I'm wearing this to alert every visitor; this is not a joke. This is a call to action,' said a woman wearing a Hazmat suit. "We have a crisis. It's a public health issue and an environmental disaster that will worsen if action is not taken now."
For months, sewage spilling over the border from Mexico has shut down shorelines from Imperial Beach to Coronado. Once again, the county’s new DNA-based water quality testing shows elevated bacterial levels in the water.
A broken wastewater facility along the coast of Mexico spews about 35 million gallons of sewage per day into the Pacific Ocean.
"These beaches are poisonous, toxic beaches to swim in. We are concerned. Our lifeguards and Navy Seals train in this water. Our first responders are in harm's way," said Sinton.
"It's disappointing to come to a beautiful beach like Coronado, and it says, 'don’t go into the water.' It's difficult to attract tourists and say 'come to Hotel Del, but don’t go in the water,'" said a man visiting from Orange County.
The good news is a fix may be coming.
The U.S. and Mexico have already agreed to invest $474 million to address Tijuana’s sewage problem. The money would go towards overhauling wastewater facilities and doubling the capacity of the South Bay International Wastewater treatment plant, which services Tijuana.
The EPA says it aims to have the projects done by 2027, but until then, tourists and locals will have to deal with the closures.
"I'll go for a run later, but I'll take a shower inland," said a visitor.
If you want to learn more about their future protests, the group here started a website called stopthesewage.org.