SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, of California, on Monday visited the Tijuana River Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant on the U.S. side of the border to announce that $300 million has been budgeted to stem the flow of raw sewage from Mexico into California.
The money is part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which set aside money to clean up the environment along the southern border.
During heavy storms or when facilities in Tijuana break down, millions of gallons of raw sewage flow downhill into the U.S. side of the border in the Tijuana River Valley and out to sea, contaminating miles of Southern California beaches.
“For far too long, toxic waste and raw sewage have flowed across the border into Southern California, bringing health hazards and environmental threats into our own backyards,” said Padilla. “This pollution continues to contaminate Southern California’s air and water, depriving communities of outdoor recreation and economic opportunities.”
Some of the money is to be spent on increasing the capacity for sewage treatment plants in the Tijuana River Valley, which already treat a lot of effluent from south of the border.
Funds will also go toward repairing aging pumps and sewage infrastructure in Tijuana.
“It is critical that we build on the federal investments we secured last year in order to implement a comprehensive, long-term solution to improve sewage treatment in both San Diego County and Tijuana,” Padilla said.
The projects will be administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International Boundary and Water Commission.
“We are grateful for the senator’s attention to this plant and for his support on improving sanitation efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Maria-Elena Giner, the commissioner of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration on obtaining the funding necessary to achieve the objective of reducing the transboundary flows for the benefit of the beaches and the surrounding communities.”
According to a news release issued by Padilla’s office, he “successfully secured language in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations package to eliminate red tape and allow the EPA to deliver $300 million previously secured in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to the International Boundary and Water Commission for water infrastructure projects.”
The allocated money reportedly includes $3.45 million for the Smuggler’s Gulch Dredging Project. Smuggler’s Gulch is one of the areas at the border, between Tijuana and San Diego, where a lot of sewage, trash and other debris flows from Mexico into the U.S.