Report shows high levels of chemicals, metals and oils in Tijuana River Valley

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The Tijuana River channel just north of the border. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The International Boundary and Water Commission has published a report entitled that confirms what many people already know: The river valley is heavily polluted with metals, oils, chemicals and human waste.

The findings are published in an IBWC report titled, “Binational Water Quality Study of the Tijuana River and Adjacent Canyons and Drains.”

Scientists from the United States and Mexico collected samples from a total of seven transboundary channels along the Tijuana River Valley between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego.

They analyzed 267 different samples of water and 204 of sediment for pathogens, metals, and chemicals.

The work was performed from December 2018 to November 2019. The findings indicate the presence of treated and untreated domestic and industrial organics, pesticides, and conventional material typically found in wastewater.

According to the report, the levels of contamination exceeded standards in both countries at all monitoring sites.

They found ammonia, oils and greases, phosphorus, nitrates, biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, methylene blue active substances (MBAS), and coliform bacteria originating as uncontrolled sewage spills from Tijuana.

Researchers also found that the disposal of solid waste or trash contributes to the presence of certain compounds exceeding the standards, such as the organic DEHP., which is commonly used in the manufacture of plastics.

The final report and complete findings can be found here.

The United States, Mexico and Canada trade agreement is allocating about $300 million to clean up the river channel and to mitigate future sewage spills from south of the border. No definite date has been confirmed to begin the work.

One of the region’s most affected areas, due to the pollution in the river valley, is the city of Imperial Beach. One of its council members, Paloma Aguirre, said the findings come as no surprise to her.

“I think the report confirms what we all already knew: that anytime there is flow in the main channel or tributaries of the Tijuana River, it’s polluted. The bottom line is that infrastructure is still insufficient and in some instances inefficient in Tijuana and major investments on behalf of their state and federal government are critically needed.”

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