Mayor Says Imperial Beach Sewage Spill After Storms Is ‘Outrageous’

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina plans to sue the federal government for sewage, toxic waste and plastic pollution that has been pouring into the Tijuana River near the border.

He said it has recently been made worse due to last week's storms that swept through San Diego.

Dedina is concerned about areas close to the border such as Border Field State Park, beaches near Tijuana and the Tijuana River that runs into the United States.

He has been an outspoken advocate for months, demanding the government clean these areas and ensure sewage does not spill into them again. 

"It outrageous that this continues," said Dedina "We have more rain coming. There was tons and tons of plastic, tens of millions of pieces of plastic and styrofoam." 

Dedina said part of the problem is the recycling regulations in Baja California. 

"There's no recycling anywhere in Tijuana," said Dedina. "All that plastic washes into the U.S." 

In November, the mayor said surfers got sick from being in the ocean after sewage from Tijuana spilled into U.S. waters. Dedina, an avid surfer himself, added he could see thick waste in the water that made him ill. 

"Thirty-five million gallons of raw sewage flow into six canyons and a main river here a day," said Dedina. "It costs California State Parks $2 million a year to clean up. The U.S. government refuses to clean anything up and that's why we're suing." 

California State Parks shut down parts of Silver Strand State Beach and all of Border Field State Park due to runoff concerns after the storms.

The state beach has since re-opened after water testing showed it is safe for swimmers and surfers. 

Border Field State Park beaches remain closed due to waste. 

In a separate incident, San Diego, Coronado and Chula Vista have joined Imperial Beach in a federal lawsuit regarding a February 2017 spill. A report indicated an estimated 28 to 256 million gallons of raw sewage gushed into the Tijuana River. 

A claim was filed in August against the International Boundary and Water Commission because of the sewage spills from Mexico.