A lawsuit from a pair of Californian cities has pushed Mexico to address the Tijuana River’s contamination issue, pledging a total of US$4.3 million to clean up the northern coastal marshes and beaches.
In little over a week, the Tijuana River sanitation process will begin due to the urgency of the situation, National Water Commission (Conagua) director, Roberto Ramirez de la Parra said.
According to Ramirez, Conagua will remove the wastewater and garbage, preventing the sewage from flowing into the Pacific Ocean. The wealth of funds, approximately 80 million pesos, will go towards renovating pumping stations, emergency generators, and electrical components among the other water treatment service plants.
The adjustments are made possible through the joint investment of the state and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC), the director added.
The state funding comes none too soon, as the wastewater treatment plant’s fallen state and growing contamination problem has spurred a number of protests from residents living six short miles from the plant.
"Tijuana is a complex city, and it has a health system that has never kept pace with population growth," said Roberto Espinosa, head of the Tijuana office in the International Boundary Water Commissions Office (CILA). Coastal developments, topography, engineering, poverty and economy have only served to aggravate the issue.
"There are needs throughout Mexico, so it is difficult to obtain large amounts of money from Mexico to solve the problem," said Paul Ganster, chief of the Good Neighbor Environmental Board and a professor at the San Diego State University.
According to regional experts, the environmental issue is solvable, although the remedy depends heavily on federal support.
"The commitment is that there will be no spills of water contaminated with sewage in the Tijuana river basin," said Miguel Lemus, a former director at the Tijuana State Commission of Public Services (CESPT), adding that the state is taking steps to fulfil its promise.
Additional measures have been taken to address air pollution as well as after an agreement was signed, promising to lower the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which rides at over 2 percent in Baja California alone.