Sewage Spill Forces Beach Closures

Over 1 million gallons of sewage dumped in Tijuana

| posted on August 29, 2012

Imperial Beach. Good thing there's no swell right now, otherwise surfers would surely risk sickness for barrels like this one. Photo: Ghiglia

A Tijuana sewage spill has dumped more than a million gallons of raw sewage into the ocean near the U.S.-Mexican border, forcing the closure of three beaches in south San Diego including Border Field State Park, Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge Shoreline, and Imperial Beach.

The spill, which is estimated to have occurred about a mile south of the border, was carried north by the currents.

The closed beaches stretch from the border area all the way to the northern parts of Imperial Beach. It’s not immediately certain what caused the spill in Tijuana. Although not uncommon, spills of this nature have occurred in the past, with the last occurring in January of 2011 when 30 million gallons of sewage from Tijuana were spilled into the sea.

According to Jesse Ramirez, manager of the Imperial Beach Surf Hut, the beach closures negatively affect businesses in the community.

“The spill happened yesterday and when these things happen, it usually closes down the beach for about three days. Whenever a spill happens, it’s really bad for business down here,” says Ramirez. “It pretty much shut downs the city as we’re so dependent on the beach. Who’s gonna want to come down here if the beach is full of sewage?”

Earlier this month a binational commission, citing a recent EPA report, applauded a Tijuana treatment station’s recent strides forward in wastewater treatment. “The city of Tijuana is now producing cleaner wastewater day to day than the biggest U.S. city in the region,” said Dave Gibson, executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board to The San Diego Reader.

It’s not immediately known when the affected beaches in San Diego will re-open.

  • BC bud

    That’s a Sh*tty situation

  • Coronado Steve

    Ok MX, really??? Get your SH*T together, would you? This is not linked to a US issue as drugs are. This is simple civil responsibility, and something that’s been around for a long time. Fix your sewer system, please!

  • Goletaboy

    This has been going on for decades. No excuses, as they have received millions and millions of dollars and all the tech support needed to fix this. This is the difference between a free market economy and bureaucratic economy – Jefferson vs. Machiavelli . Yes, our systems fail sometimes, when overloaded in the rainy season. and we work like hell day and night to get it fixed, or heads will roll. Best wishes for IB and SD.

  • David Ely

    Will MEX be good to surf this weekend? or still polluted?

  • Center Line

    So sad. And how much waste is dumped everytime there is rain predicted in the weather forcast without the public knowing? Rain, epic sand bars, and sickness. Most of us have taken the risk before. Southern California is dangerous. What’s the average number of sewer drains per mile from Mexico to LA?

  • Reid L

    How do we know if these currents will take the sewage up to other parts of San Diego county and affect other beaches/breaks in the area?

  • Hector Hype

    Dude….who cares. I’m starved of waves down here. This weekend should still be sick!

  • thats a bummer, this hurricane swell south would probably have lit up baja malibu, but the sewage is probably really bad down there.

    Thats a bummer, this hurricane swell south would probably have lit up baja malibu, but the sewage is probably really bad down there.


  • mexboy

    Mex is way polluted right now. one of the tankers off Rosarito dumped its tanks and theres some funky stuff in the water. you dont hear that in the news!

  • Friend of Jehovah

    I can’t wait for the premier of “Aqua Seafoam Shame” which is FREE to the public on Saturday September 8, 2012
    11:30am at the Courtyard Marriott Marina Del Rey.

    “Aqua Seafoam Shame” is a documentary which explores the horrific diagnosis that 25% of our planet’s surface is now garbage landfill, due to the pacific garbage patch and plastics. In 20 years our world will have no coral reefs –  which means our oceans will revert back to the primordial sludge it was before creatures walked on land. What, if anything, can be done to backpedal the Earth from this cataclysmic trajectory?

    Some critics are calling it possibly the most important documentary ever made.

  • Da Reg

    pretty stinky this morning when checked it. The minimal SSW just slowly pushing da stank north

  • Markie boy

    Tijuana…land of opportunity…not. What a God forsaken place. Felipe Calderón is happy to send his “dregs” across our boarder illegally to get them out of his country and our leaders do NOTHING to stop it; they’re actually encouraged to break Federal law. Mexico; keep your dregs and keep your poop!
    Corruption, ignorance and greed…recipe for disaster.

  • fly w me

    Mexico sux…..period.

  • dorthypacker

    Thank you for sharing this article on how the sewer back flows into the ocean. That is disgusting! Does the calgary sewer do this as well? How can we stop this from happening? Thank you for your help!