A sewage problem has plagued the city of Imperial Beach for years, and seems like an uphill battle. What new ideas and solutions do you bring to the table?
Cross-border sewage spills have disrupted Imperial Beach for far too long. Fixing the sewage pollution problem has been my number one priority over the last four years. It affects both our air and water quality, it impacts military readiness, and degrades our quality of life as a beach community. But the problem has never been a lack of solutions, rather it’s been a lack of political will at every level of government necessary to address the problem. So I did something about it.
I organized former Navy SEALs to appear with me on CBS News’ 60 Minutes to tell the nation about our pollution problems and how it impacts military training. And I traveled with a regional delegation to Washington DC to personally lobby Congress to finally do something.
It worked. As part of the tri-national trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, Congress allocated $300 million to build the infrastructure necessary to stop the sewage spills. Now is not the time to change course - now is the time to take advantage of the new resources in money and political will on both sides of the border to finally fix the problem.
The Environmental Protection Agency already has two projects in the pipe to do so. The first diverts the wastewater at the International Boundary and Water Commission treatment plant. The second will remove trash and sediment from Smuggler’s Gulch canyon collector system so that capacity is no longer exceeded and sewage isn’t allowed to reroute into the Tijuana River Estuary and the Pacific Ocean. These are both major efforts to address the most immediate causes of our pollution crisis. But it’s just the start - the EPA is evaluating more than two dozen other potential projects to eliminate the pollution problem all together, including facilities on the southern side of the border.
I understand everyone’s frustrated with how long this problem has been allowed to persist. I share that frustration and it’s exactly why I took action. But our technical solutions were never the problem; we’ve known what needed to be done. The projects are good, and now we have the will and the resources to build them. So let’s stay the course, keep pressure on our County, State, and Federal government partners, and finally clean up this mess on both sides of the border to preserve our natural treasures.