SAN DIEGO — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla visited the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) Wastewater Treatment Plant Monday morning to highlight federal efforts to address transborder water pollution in the San Diego/Tijuana region.
Senator Padilla secured an appropriations package to eliminate red tape and allow the United States Environmental Protection Agency to deliver $300 million previously confirmed in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to the International Boundary and Water Commission for water infrastructure projects, according to a release.
"The last time any high-ranking official visited this plant was in 1997 when we initiated the operations, and Vice President Al Gore was here for the ribbon cutting. Since then, we have not had that level of attentiveness," said Dr. Maria-Elena Giner, the commissioner of the IBWC.
Senator Padilla said the conditions they observed at the plant are "unacceptable."
Maintenance, upgrades, and plant performance are all impacted by budget limitations.
"Padilla also worked to secure $3.45 million for the Smuggler’s Gulch Dredging Project in San Diego County, which will dredge Smuggler’s Gulch channel to clear trash and sediment and protect downstream properties, habitats, and communities as well as human and environmental health in the Tijuana River Watershed and coastal waters," according to Edgar Rodriguez, a spokesperson for Senator Padilla.
It's estimated that about $150-million is needed to complete crucial upgrades to the plant.
WATCH RELATED: $474m cross-border project to fight sewage contamination