Issa fights to protect Tijuana River Valley from sewage spills

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on Monday introduced legislation that creates a plan to protect and rehabilitate the Tijuana River Valley region to halt the repeated flooding of sewage and trash.

Issa’s bill, the Tijuana River Valley Comprehensive Protection and Rehabilitation Act of 2017, would develop a program to update the area’s infrastructure to prevent the flooding of wastewater, trash and sediment that leaks from Tijuana into San Diego County.

“The impact of these continuing spills will be felt for generations to come unless we take action to stop it now,” Issa said during a press conference in San Diego to introduce the bill.

Federal, state and local governments and Mexican agencies would coordinate on the program, under the bill. The Army Corps of Engineers would produce a feasibility and technical assistance plan to improve the wastewater infrastructure to prevent flooding. Once finalized, grants would be provided to fund the infrastructure projects.

The problem of wastewater discharge has been an ongoing one that worsens during periodic rains, which cause flooding and also public health concerns. In one case in February, 28 million gallons of sewage was discharged into the Tijuana River Valley, according to a report by the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico. The pollution forced beach closures throughout the area.

“Allowing the sewage and wastewater to flow up into San Diego County not only hurts small business and our tourism-reliant economy but also poses serious health consequences for local communities and the border patrol agents who have been harmed in their ability to secure our border by the ongoing contamination,” Issa said.

The legislation would also implement a new Transboundary Waterway Alert System to monitor and warn residents in the event of flooding or wastewater spillage. All information on water testing results and spills would be available to the public online.

Issa, who introduced the bill with U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA), said solving the problem will take strong bipartisan and international cooperation.