For over half a century, toxic waste and raw sewage has flown into the Tijuana River Valley, making people and wildlife sick and forcing beach and recreational area closures at southern San Diego beaches. This decades-long cross-border pollution issue has risen to disastrous levels, especially during the sewage spill of 2017 where 143 million gallons of raw sewage flowed to our precious coastline. In 2021 alone, beaches in Southern San Diego were closed for 246 days due to ongoing pollution.
These unacceptable conditions motivated the Surfrider Foundation to take legal action by filing a citizen's suit for Clean Water Act violations in July of 2018 against the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) to compel solutions to the massive water quality violations and resultant threats to public health. Meanwhile the San Diego Chapter collaborated with multiple agencies and community groups to develop the Tijuana River Valley (TRV) stakeholder solutions to help solve this chronic pollution problem.
Two milestone victories for clean water have recently occurred that gives Surfrider and all of community partners hope that we are finally turning the corner on this devastating situation.
There is still work to do, however, as the solutions needed to meet these goals will cost over $600 million. There is $300 million in dedicated funding available through USMCA, plus additional monies available through the federal Border Water Infrastructure Program. There is, however, still an over $300 million shortfall that is needed to see these solutions all implemented and in the ground.
The policy objectives of the San Diego Chapter's Clean Border Water Now campaign moving forward are to secure the remaining funding needed to eliminate the sewage, trash, sediment and chemical waste that is polluting beaches in the US-Mexico border region through available federal, state and local funding sources.