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Urban runoff from Tijuana River caused by rainstorm affecting Imperial Beach

With rain comes an old problem in the South Bay: contaminated runoff from the Tijuana river. The newly elected Mayor says federal funding could bring progress.

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — What's a beach city, if not to enjoy the shores? For Imperial Beach, ‘keep out' signs have continued to disappoint swimmers hoping to get in the water.

The reason for that is during every rainstorm Imperial Beach and sometimes even Coronado gets plagued by contaminants stemming from the Tijuana river urban runoff. It's the same runoff has been known to make people sick.

“You have solid waste, plastic, trash, waste tires, animal waste, you name it,” said newly elected Imperial Beach Mayor, Paloma Aguirre. 

In the past year, constant beach closures have only hurt businesses and discouraged tourists.

The county’s new DNA testing has also shown high levels of bacteria even when Tijuana Rivers are dry and still the challenge remains on how to stop the flow of sewage from Tijuana.

However, a new allocation of $300 million federal funds could finallyhelp get shovels in the ground within the next two years. 

A project that includes rerouting wastewater, fixing sewage pipes and replacing the sewage treatment plant in Tijuana.

“Expansion of the sewage plants so we can see a significant reduction in our beach closure days during the winter,” said Aguirre.

The recent heavy rainfall has continued to push another trail of contaminants from the south to the north.

“A lot of that rain is just runoff so you have a lot more flooding and a lot more slippery roads and it's concerning of course,” said Aguirre. 

Another water contact warning remains in effect from Imperial Beach to La Jolla.

Normally when it rains we are asked to stay out of the water for 72 hours, but south of Imperial Beach has been closed for over a year, forcing leaders to continue lobbying for change.

WATCH RELATED: Coronado and Imperial Beach closures affecting businesses and tourism (June 2022).


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