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City Council Adjourned This Week: Return to Discuss TJ Sewage

by Blake Bunch, published
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As most know, San Diego City Council typically meets every Monday at 10am, and every Tuesday at 2pm. For those who cannot take several hours off work to attend, council live streams all meetings here, which is a beneficial tool for transparency in government. Though they will not meet today, Council President Todd Gloria released the docket for a special meeting of council to be held on Monday, December 17. The consent agenda for this meeting seems to be the heaviest since Bob Filner took office. As the first order of business, council will publicly address the continued state of emergency regarding the discharge of raw sewage from Tijuana, Mexico.

In 1983, the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) "stepped in" and constructed a more comprehensive sewage collection system in Tijuana. This was in response to 1970s water pollution in the city, where up to 10 million gallons of raw sewage were discharged into the Tijuana River daily. During this time, San Diego experienced some difficulty in dealing with the untreated sewage, and spent countless hours quarantining beaches in Imperial Beach and north Coronado. When the IBWC created the collection system, they placed their emphasis on building a holding pond for the Tijuana main pump station.

The system was ultimately completed in 1987, with the new system entailing a single pump station, and a treatment plant with a capacity of 17 million gallons a day. Even though the new system proved to "outdo" the old one, raw sewage continued to pour into the river from "un-sewered communities."

Fast forward to 1990, when failures in the new collection system caused up to 20 million gallons of raw sewage were discharged back into the Tijuana River Valley. This truly galvanized citizens on the US side of the border. As a result, in 1997 the IBWC set into operation the International Treatment Plant with the capacity to treat 25 million gallons of Tijuana sewage daily.

This is still a major issue for San Diego, as large amounts of untreated sewage still heavily contaminates the water every year or so. Even with the relatively new International Treatment Plant, sewage from un-sewered communities in Tijuana continues to slip through the cracks. Many concepts are on the table for solving this problem, and it should prove interesting to see how the newly-formed council works out this issue.

Not only will council be discussing this issue (among several others), but will be selecting their new mayor pro tem at the meeting next Monday as well.

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