SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — As of Monday morning, water tainted with untreated sewage from Mexico was flowing at 171 million gallons per day, according to the International Boundary and Water Commission.

The IBWC is also reporting that so far this year, the transboundary volume in the Tijuana River has been 25.3 billion gallons, although it says the composition of this flow is estimated to be 95% stormwater. 

In several recent studies, findings show contaminated sewage runoff is capable of making people sick when bacteria is released into the air and consumed by hundreds of thousands who live near and along the valley.

“The School of Public Health at San Diego State actually did a study, as well as Scripps and UC San Diego,” said Mary Doyle, a former board member with the South Bay Union School District. “Anecdotally, people are getting sick, kids are getting sick, the hydro sulfuric acid, the smell of rotten egg pervades this area, it can’t be harmless.”


12M gallons of additional raw sewage from Mexico to flow into US per day

Doyle has been lobbying school districts to issue proclamations or resolutions pushing President Joe Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a sewage state of emergency.

This declaration would free up funds to mitigate issues associated with the ongoing sewage flows.

Southwest High School and Nestor Language Academy are two schools located within a mile of the Tijuana River Valley. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

Doyle believes thousands of students who attend schools near the Tijuana River Valley would benefit from this action.

So far, the South Bay Union School District and Sweetwater Union High School District have followed Doyle’s advice while others including the Chula Vista school district are considering it.


Despite warnings, visitors bathing in ‘contaminated waters’ of Northern Baja

“We are suffering down here and if we can get school boards on board and get school kids to start writing letters, because it’s their future, their legacy,” said Doyle “Let’s start somewhere.”

Doyle added she would like to see everyone, not just districts get involved.

“The more they hear this, the more it makes the news as it has been, maybe they’ll do something, this is a creeping national disaster, and it’s creeping north of San Diego, it’s unbelievable it’s gotten this awful and they need to know that.”

Last week, San Diego’s congressional delegation helped push an appropriations bill that includes another $156 million to repair the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is said to be obsolete and in bad need of an overhaul.

The upgraded facility would catch most of the sewage as it comes in from Mexico, treat and then release it offshore away from the Tijuana River Valley.