The visit, spearheaded by Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, comes after his city experiences its latest beach closure from water pollution streaming over the Mexico border. Other officials expected to attend include San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, county Supervisor Greg Cox and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Sanders.
“The Chamber’s delegation trip to Washington is an opportunity to bring leaders from San Diego and Baja to Washington to advocate directly with legislators and policy makers for the issues critical to our region,” Sanders said.
The shoreline from the border to the north end of Imperial Beach has been shuttered since Saturday, Sept. 7, according to San Diego County Department of Environmental Health. The department recently improved the speed of water-quality testing at beaches, with results now produced within 24 hours, as opposed to several days.
The Tijuana River started flowing over the border on Wednesday, Sept. 4, after rainwater overwhelmed the diversion pumps in the channel — allowing more than 94 million gallons of heavily polluted water to stream into the San Diego region.
“We got an awful spill, no reporting and no end in sight,” said Dedina on Wednesday, as foul water continued to flow in the river channel.
President Trump’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released in June its most comprehensive plan to date for more effectively capturing polluted stormwater and sewage that regularly flow over the border through the Tijuana River.
Mexico has a system to divert all flows in the river and pump them out to sea, but it’s routinely overwhelmed by even light rain, as it was last week.
The EPA plan outlined more than $200 million in potential upgrades and projects, including dramatically beefing up the capacity of the diversion system and replacing failing pipes in Tijuana. All U.S.-funded projects south of the border would require an at least 50 percent match in funding from Mexico.
Faulconer met personally with Trump in June, following the unveiling the EPA blueprint, to lobby for funding. The meeting resulted in a minor incident when the president falsely claimed on Fox News that Faulconer thanked him for the border wall.
The pledge of support by federal regulators comes after the state of California, as well as the cities of Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and San Diego, filed Clean Water Act lawsuits against the Trump administration to force action on the issue.