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Will Coronado, Imperial Beach shorelines be closed all summer? New testing reveals rampant Tijuana sewage

Coronado’s seaside community and hardworking Imperial Beach could be in big trouble as sewage continues to flow across the border from Tijuana.

Closing beaches that were once considered mostly winter, now seem ready to become a year-round phenomenon in San Diego’s South Bay.

However, this is not because cross-border pollution from the over-taxed and damaged sewage system in Baja California has escalated dramatically, according to county officials.

It’s because the ocean is more polluted than we thought. A plethora of recently closed shores followed on May 5 the launch of a new DNA-based water quality testing system, almost a decade in the making.

“This method is more accurate, more accurate, so we can get a better idea of ​​the quality of the water actually,” said Heather Buonomo, director of the county’s Department of Environmental Health and Quality.

“Until the root cause of this issue is addressed, which is the correction of the pollution of the sewage flowing to these beaches, this will continue,” he warned.

The beaches of Coronado have been closed for an impressive 17 days since the new test began early last month. The coastline of Imperial Beach to the south, which has historically been much more affected by sewage pollution, closed immediately and has not yet reopened.

“No one expected this to lead to these closures as far as the Coronado,” Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said on Tuesday. “Right now our beaches will be closed all summer.”

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey did not respond to a request for comment.

Dentina and others have expressed concern that the closure could have far-reaching economic and social repercussions, possibly shutting down programs such as junior lifeguards and YMCA surf camps and disrupting Navy training operations.

“Hotel del (seaside Coronado) will be closed all the time now,” said Chris Helmer, director of environment and natural resources for Imperial Beach. “It will infuriate many powerful people.”

The closure is necessary to protect the beaches from dangerously high levels of bacteria and viruses, according to county public health officials. Swimmers who ignore the restrictions may be at risk for diarrhea, fever, respiratory disease, meningitis and even paralysis.

San Diego is the first coastal county in the nation to introduce a federally approved water quality testing system that uses DNA technology, officials said. The effort involved the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Public Health and researchers at UC San Diego.

“We started this process nine years ago because we heard loud and clear from the community that they wanted to know what was going on with their water,” Buonomo told the county. “They wanted faster results and more accurate information on whether they could get sick.”

The old test regime was based on what is known as culture taking, where scientists test water samples for bacterial growth in a laboratory. Officials say the new DNA-based method is not only more accurate but also faster, returning results within 10 hours instead of 24. In any case, the presence of bacteria is considered an indicator for pathogens such as E. coli, Vibrio and salmonella.

“When you have a high sample of wastewater in your sample, the culture method can often lose it, and the DNA test does not lack it,” said Jeremy Corrigan, director of operations at the San Diego County Public Health Laboratory.

For years, environmental regulators believed that sewage dumped on the Mexican border was largely the result of heavy winter rainfall that poured polluted runoff and sewage through the Tijuana River canal into the Imperial Beach estuary.

However, recent studies by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD and Stanford University have located a damaged sewer system in Tijuana as a major source of pollution. The San Antonio de los Buenos wastewater treatment plant in Punta Bandera is estimated to dump up to 35 million gallons of raw wastewater a day in the Pacific Ocean.

When ocean currents move north, referred to as the “southern bladder,” they can carry feces and other pollution as far north as the Coronado. Such situations prevail in spring and summer, according to health officials.

The EPA issued a $ 630 million plan, almost half of which is funded, to reduce cross-border pollution. An important part of the project is an effort to reroute much of the wastewater currently being pumped to the Punta Bandera, which is based on an obsolete lagoon system. Instead, the wastewater would be sent to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant along the San Diego border.

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Will Coronado, Imperial Beach shorelines be closed all summer? New testing reveals rampant Tijuana sewage Source link Will Coronado, Imperial Beach shorelines be closed all summer? New testing reveals rampant Tijuana sewage

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