SoCal’s Imperial Beach shut down to swimming, surfing after sewage flows north from Mexico

California
Competitors run under the Imperial Beach pier during the run portion of the IRONMAN 70.3 Superfrog on Sept. 16, 2018 in Imperial Beach, California. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Competitors run under the Imperial Beach pier during the run portion of the IRONMAN 70.3 Superfrog on Sept. 16, 2018 in Imperial Beach, California. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

The entire shoreline of Southern California’s Imperial Beach is closed to swimmers and surfers after sewage-contaminated runoff flowed north again from Mexico’s Tijuana River.

The closure announced Friday will be in place until testing shows the water is safe, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Reports of the putrid smell have been flooding in from residents of coastal communities for weeks, the newspaper said.

“The stench was crazy, just terrible,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. “We’re just going into our round robin of endless openings and closures because of the residual sewage in the river.”

Hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic water has flowed north from Mexico over the past several decades.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in February that it would spend roughly $300 million to address the problem. A major project would upgrade the collection system that diverts flows to a wastewater treatment plant.

San Diego officials have been pushing for a new system since 2019.

The EPA is also looking to expand concrete basins in the river valley that capture urban runoff in canyons along the border. The facilities were upgraded in 2010, but sewage and chemical-tainted flows continue to overwhelm their capacity.

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