California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla Tuesday called on U.S. Senate leadership to include $310 million in an upcoming emergency supplemental bill — money that would be used to repair infrastructure to treat raw sewage spilling across the border from Mexico.
“While normal conditions overwhelm the system, Tropical Storm Hilary pushed hundreds-of-millions of gallons more of untreated stormwater and wastewater across the border, polluting nearby waterways and the ocean,” the senators, both Democrats, wrote to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
More than 100 billion gallons of toxic effluent have entered the United States through the Tijuana River since 2018, routinely depositing dangerous bacteria into regional waterways and closing beaches up and down the coast, according to Feinstein and Padilla.
“In 2019, the California delegation secured $300 million in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to expand the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant from 25 million gallons per day to 50 million gallons per day, which will alleviate the pollution burden,” the letter reads.
“However, the International Boundary and Water Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have identified urgent repairs to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant that must be undertaken before expanding capacity.”
The senators attached letters from Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Natural Resources Agency in requesting the funding.
County Board of Supervisors Chair Nora Vargas and Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer in July continued their push to have the U.S.-Mexico transboundary sewage pollution from the Tijuana River declared a federal emergency, following the closure of several county beaches on the Fourth of July.
The south side of Imperial Beach has been closed for more than 600 consecutive days due to sewage runoff flowing into the ocean from Tijuana.
City News Service contributed to this article.