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Imperial Beach mayor asking San Diego County to declare a state of emergency after sewage spill

Dedina said right now, about 60 million gallons of sewage are flowing in the Tijuana River

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — Officials in Imperial Beach continue to grapple with sewage spilling into the Tijuana River after heavy rains, polluting the air and the water along south San Diego.

Wednesday, President Biden unveiled his plans to put environmental justice at the top of his list to fight climate change. Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said he applauds the move and he wants to Imperial Beach to be a part of the new plan.

It’s smelly and it’s toxic. That’s how Dedina described the sewage spills from the Tijuana River that flow over into Imperial Beach. He said when Tijuana authorities shut down their sewage pumps for any reason, residents in the South Bay are at risk.

“The toxins in the air, the sewage literally in the air, has a huge impact on residents in San Ysidro and South San Diego. I know that because they call me and email me saying they’re suffering from this horrible stench,” Dedina said.

Dedina said right now, about 60 million gallons of sewage are flowing in the Tijuana River, down from 200 million after last week’s rain. With more heavy rain on the way, he says he’d like a state of emergency to be declared by San Diego County officials and for the federal government to step in.

“Today I asked President Biden, that if they’re going to stop spending money on the border wall, and there was $150 million proposed to literally put a wall through the Tijuana River, that that money should be allocated for sewage infrastructure,” Dedina said.

Dedina said $300 million was allocated by the federal government to build new sewage infrastructure in 2019, but getting started is taking much longer than he expected. In the meantime, he said federal agencies in Tijuana and the United States need an immediate plan to fix the sewage problem.

“Last year alone, we had almost nine months of polluted beaches in Imperial Beach and Coronado had record closures even during the summer," said Dedina.

Dedina said people should stay out of the water especially after heavy rains and keep their windows closed to keep from breathing in the toxic fumes. He also said if the beaches are closed, follow the rules and stay away until it’s cleared to reopen.

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