IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (Border Report) — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, wants the Environmental Protection Agency to take over clean up efforts along the Tijuana River.
For decades, untreated sewage from Mexico has flowed into U.S. territory and out to sea devastating an ecological preserve and beaches in south San Diego County, especially the city of Imperial Beach.
“Right now we have eight to 10 million gallons of raw sewage flowing in the Tijuana River, our beaches have been closed pretty much since November and throughout the summer,” Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said.
Dedina is hopeful and happy Feinstein is pushing a bill to get the EPA to take care of the problem.
“An agency like the EPA that has the bandwidth and the capacity to solve those problems, right now we have too many players too many people that can keep this from actually getting the problem fixed,” Dedina said.
In a statement, Feinstein agreed with the need to have one lead agency: “One of the biggest issues is that no one agency is in charge of the problem. A whole range of agencies – the EPA, International Boundary and Water Commission, State Department, Department of Homeland Security and Defense Department, not to mention state and local agencies – all have jurisdiction or interest in this international issue.”
“What we need is one agency in charge, taking input from the others so decisions can be made. This approach is similar to other large, regional environmental challenges like the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Everglades and Chesapeake Bay. Here in California, we have also had great success with this model of inter-agency coordination at Lake Tahoe.”
Feinstein went as far as to outline her bill:
- It would put the EPA in charge of the entire effort.
- The EPA would then work with federal, state and local partners to identify a list of priority projects to stop the pollution. It would also be authorized to accept and distribute funds to build, operate and maintain those projects.
- The International Boundary and Water Commission would be required to construct, operate and maintain projects on the list and would be specifically authorized to mitigate storm water from Mexico and the pollution that comes with it.
Feinstein’s bill will have to be cleared by Congress in the coming months.