For more than a decade Imperial Beach has been contaminated with bacteria flowing in from Mexico.
“I don’t feel safe letting my kids go into the water because it’s all polluted, and it’s sad,” said Carla Diaz, a former Imperial Beach resident.
The city says the beach area near the pier was closed for around 50% of last year. Areas further South were closed for 100%.
“There’s nothing more frustrating for us not to use our ocean right across the street,” said Mayor Paloma Aguirre.
Imperial Beach’s new mayor has worked to fix this for over a decade. She says it’s a direct result of the Tijuana River and the crumbling Mexican wastewater facility piping sewage onto the North American coast.
“When we get south swells, all that pollution is pushed up,” Aguirre said.
Congress just passed two bills that should help. In total, they give around $400 million to improve water infrastructure on the U.S. - Mexico border. Aguirre says part of this money will benefit the sewage treatment plant in the South Bay.
“Currently, it treats 25 million gallons of sewage per day," Aguirre said. "It’s going to be expanded to 60.”
As for the other side of the border, Mexico has already pledged $144 million to fix pipes at their water treatment facilities. Aguirre says beachgoers should see changes in the next couple of years.
“We expect to have shovels in the ground, 2025-2026. On the Mexican side, my understanding is that will happen a bit sooner,” Aguirre said.
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