U.S. Water News Online
SAN DIEGO -- An environmental group and a federal water
commission has reached an agreement aimed at cleaning up discharges
from an international sewage treatment plant that has been sending
wastewater into kelp beds and the surf zone in San Diego.
The U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water
Commission has agreed to comply with its discharge permit and the
Clean Water Act, either by building secondary sewage treatment ponds
or sending the wastewater to Mexico to be treated.
The settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed in 1999 by the
Surfrider Foundation, which accused the U.S. section of the IBWC of
releasing polluted wastewater into an area of the ocean where the
current carries water back to shore and into kelp beds and the surf
The settlement, which must be approved by a federal judge, also
calls for independent experts to determine the environmental impacts
of the discharges and whether current monitoring is adequate.
San Diego beachgoers can now ``look forward to someone protecting
them,'' said Rory Wicks, a lawyer for the Surfrider Foundation. ``So
far this outfall has been monitored by the people who own it.''
The U.S. section of the IBWC is committed to complying with water
quality standards, said commissioner John Bernal. ``We are pleased
that we have reached a proposed agreement ... to provide secondary
treatment,'' he said.
The International Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Tijuana River
Valley just north of the U.S.-Mexico border hasn't been able to keep
up with the amount of sewage coming from the border area.
The U.S. section of the plant sends 25 million gallons of
wastewater a day through primary treatment only. The overflow spills
into the Tijuana River Valley and border area beaches when it rains.
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