California Legislature Urges Federal Government to Stem Cross-Border Pollution

Senator Hueso’s Tijuana River Valley resolution receives unanimous approval
August 30, 2018

Sacramento, CA – August 30, 2018 – The California State Legislature today voted to approve a resolution authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) that urges the federal government and the US Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) to take immediate action to adequately address cross-border pollution in the Tijuana River Valley. Senate Joint Resolution No. 22 received overwhelming bipartisan and bicameral support and will be sent to the U.S. Congress for their information.

“The USIBWC’s continued failure to abide by the state’s water quality control standards for more than 30 years has caused millions of gallons of wastewater and sediment to pollute our coastal waters,” said Senator Hueso. “We must enforce the state’s water quality standards and ensure that the health and safety of California’s residents are made a priority at the federal level.”

For decades, the Tijuana River Valley has experienced an increased discharge of trash, raw sewage and wastewater that continually pours over the border from Tijuana into San Diego County. The recurring transboundary flows have resulted in severe economic and environmental degradation in the area. Property values are plummeting and tourism is dwindling due to constant beach closures and serious public health risks to the nearby community. Several viruses and bacteria have been detected in the surf zone of the Tijuana River during wet weather, and the City of San Diego has declared a continued state of emergency since 1993 as a result of the escalated discharge that has caused numerous health problems.

Data collected by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board shows that, from December 2016 through today, there were 41 spills recorded with more than 280,449,050 gallons of transboundary flows. This year alone, more than 4,585,000 gallons of transboundary flows were reported.

After Senator Hueso introduced SJR 22, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board took initial actions toward filing a lawsuit against the USIBWC for violations of the Clean Water Act. The cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista, as well as the Port of San Diego, have also initiated a separate lawsuit against the USIBWC.

“The residents of California and our precious natural resources cannot afford to wait another 30 years for the federal government to take action on this critical public health and safety issue,” said Senator Hueso. “It’s time the USIBWC builds the necessary infrastructure to divert, capture and treat wastewater, trash and sediment flowing into the Tijuana River Valley.”

Watch Senator Hueso bring up the resolution for a vote:​​​​​​​