California Attorney General Files Lawsuit Over Tijuana Sewage Polluting San Diego Beaches

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit last week against the federal government, alleging they violated the Clean Water Act by allowing millions of gallons of raw sewage, heavy metals, and other contamination to routinely spill across the border from Tijuana into San Diego. According to the complaint, toxic water pollution from the Tijuana River Valley shut down San Diego beaches on more than 500 days in the past three years.

The lawsuit specifically targets the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) and argues that the federal government has neglected to follow through on its responsibility to address water-quality issues with Mexico.

Plaintiffs argue that because IBWC controls a flood-control channel that redirects the Tijuana River on its way to the Pacific Ocean, as well as the water-capture basins in five of the canyons along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, the agency is responsible for the pollution that often escapes those systems. The lawsuit alleges that IBWC has failed to keep the diversion pumps free of debris, which has led to clogs and basin overflows. The complaint also mentions that IBWC has failed to document and report many of the recent spills.

Lawyers for the defense have said that the U.S. federal government is not legally responsible for the renegade flows that escape their collection systems, and pointed out that pollution would be significantly worse without its efforts.

See People of the State of California v. International Boundary and Water Commission et al on Justia.

Additional Reading

California sues federal government over Tijuana sewage spilling into San Diego, The San Diego Union-Tribune September 5, 2018

Photo credit: kan_khampanya /