SAN DIEGO: Feds Announce Probe Into “Intentional” 143 Million Gallon Raw Sewage Spill By Mexico

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

Federal officials in the United States and Mexico announced on Thursday a joint investigation into a sewage spill in the Tijuana River that has polluted South County beaches as far north as Coronado — and which now looks to have been intentional as some elected leaders in San Diego suspected.

The U.S. and Mexican commissioners of the International Boundary and Water Commission said Thursday that the inquiry would look into when the spill occurred, the amount of sewage involved and why the agency and the public weren’t notified of the incident sooner. A binational working group will submit a report within 30 days.

“We need to make sure the commission receives timely and accurate information when there are sewage spills in one country that affect the other,” said U.S. Commissioner Edward Drusina in a statement.

The decision comes as a growing number of officials in the U.S. have called for a probe into why sewage spewed into the river in Mexico, flowing north into the Pacific Ocean without any notification from authorities south of the border.

From the editorial board of the Union-Tribune:

The coastal cities in southern San Diego County have long appeared to maintain solid, cooperative relations with the city of Tijuana and the state of Baja California. This is what makes Mexican officials’ failure to warn local cities of a massive Tijuana River sewage spill that they knew was happening and that lasted 18 days so baffling — and so grossly unacceptable.

According to U.S. officials with the International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint U.S.-Mexico agency, an estimated 143 million gallons of raw sewage poured into the river from Feb. 6 to Feb. 23 while repairs were made to a major sewer pipe. Local water authorities say this was done without explanation or advance notice. It led to fouling of Pacific waters from the Mexican coast adjacent to Tijuana all the way north to Coronado and created substantial health risks for ocean and beach users.