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Coasts Still Polluted

April 14, 2017

By Marinee Zavala

Serge Dedina

Pollution and contamination of different water sources in San Diego have reached historic levels. People now have to be concerned not only about pollution levels when they go to the beach, but also about how clean the water their children drink at school, home, and elsewhere in San Diego really is.

After some water samples taken at Emerson-Bandini Elementary School tested positive for lead, San Diego Unified School District, the second-largest school district in California, is already considering solutions for all its campuses.

“We expect testing to be finalized by mid-June. We are testing all the campuses in the San Diego Unified School District, which is more than 200 schools. As soon as the results are ready, we will be posting them online so parents can see them,” shared Isabella McNeil, Information Services Specialist at San Diego Unified.

Issues with pollutants such as lead and bacteria, however, have also been found at other school districts, such as San Ysidro. As a result, parents are being asked to consider other sources of water contamination that could impact the health of both children and adults.

“We encourage parents to take their kids to the doctors to be tested for lead, because lead can be present not only in schools, but also in house paint, at stores, in many places other than schools. So, to avoid being exposed, the best thing is to be informed and to talk to their doctors,” added McNeil.

Local beaches have also experienced serious contamination issues, particularly those close to the border, which were seriously impacted even before the last series of storm events by a historic sewage spill which, according to the U.S.-Mexico International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), has yet to be accurately quantified.

“If a single gallon of raw sewage enters the river, that is too much, and what we have already noted is that there was a very big issue due to lack of notification,” stated Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. “This could have been a story of binational cooperation, instead of the scandal it was.”

The most recent spill that flowed from Baja California to San Diego originated in an area of Tijuana known as Cañón del Sainz, generating discharges into the River of about 60-90 liters per second, according to IBWC investigations.

“I am worried as a border-region Mayor, because there was a spill last week and again two weeks ago for which there are no reports, no agencies in Mexico nor in the U.S. were notified. Tijuana without its beach is Saltillo, and San Diego without its beach is Oklahoma, and I don’t want to live in Oklahoma. I want to have access to my beach, I want people to have access to the ocean seven days a week, 365 days a year,” added Dedina.

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