Federal officials in the U.S. and Mexico agreed to probe the circumstances behind a large sewage spill south of the international border that fouled the Tijuana River Valley and nearby beaches in southern San Diego County last month, a San Diego-area environmental group announced Thursday.
Hours ahead of a news conference in which local political leaders and environmental organizations were to push for the investigation, officials with the International Boundary and Water Commission said they would look into the matter, according to the group Wildcoast.
The investigation by the commission’s binational Water Quality Work Group will determine when the spill occurred, quantify how much sewage spilled, specify the characteristics of the sewage and identify problems in procedures to notify the commission and the public, Wildcoast said.
U.S. officials estimate that more than 143 million gallons of raw sewage flowed from Mexico into the Pacific Ocean, causing a widespread stench that resulted in numerous complaints.
San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez — who represents Otay Mesa and San Ysidro — said the incident put the health of his constituents at risk. Alvarez heads the City Council’s Environment Committee.
The news conference, which will still be held, is set to take place an hour before a 6:30 p.m. meeting of the commission’s U.S. Section Citizens Forum. The commission implements water treaties between the U.S. and Mexico, and settles disputes that might arise.
One of the items on the agenda is a report on tracking the flow of solid waste across the border.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Mexican officials said the discharge resulted from a project to repair a sewer pipe at the confluence of the Alamar and Tijuana rivers, south of the international border.
U.S. officials weren’t notified about the work, however.
–City News Service
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