California forking out $34 million to clean up New and Tijuana rivers. SAM RIBAKOFF / February 2, 2023

Border watersheds have been plagued for years by trash, sewage, agricultural and industrial runoff and other pollutants.

SAN DIEGO (CN) — The State Water Resources Control Board will spend $34 million for six projects to improve the water quality of the New River and the Tijuana River along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The New River starts south of the city of Mexicali, and runs through Calexico on the U.S. side of the border and through Imperial County to the Salton Sea. The Tijuana River runs from Baja California into San Diego.

Both rivers are heavily polluted by sewage, trash, industrial and agricultural waste, and other sediment and pollutants.

“The water quality in our border watersheds have been degraded by sewage, trash and other pollutants for decades, posing a constant threat to the health of people, wildlife, and our economies,” Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the state water board, said in a statement Thursday. “This funding comes at a critical time, as these challenges are exacerbated by extreme weather patterns in our changed climate. These projects will help improve water quality for our border communities while we continue our collaboration at the local, state and federal levels, and with our Mexican partners, to protect our water resources.”

Those projects include $18 million for the city of Calexico and the California Department of Water Resources to install a trash screen, a system to pump water back into the river after it’s been treated at the Calexico Wastewater Treatment Plant, and other infrastructure to prevent against erosion on the New River.

Another project will be headed by San Diego County, which will use more than $4 million to build a sediment and trash control basin and do dredging to remove sediment, trash and debris at the Tijuana River Pilot Channel and Smuggler’s Gulch, and area the announcement by the board describes as a place where pollutants on the Tijuana River accumulate, and through a series of gates, is used to divert trash from the river from reaching the Pacific Ocean.

San Diego County will receive $2 million to remediate an illegal dumping ground that has altered the course of the Tijuana River and to restore the floodplain and habitat around the property.

The Rural Community Assistance Corporation will receive $4.7 million to build a floating trash boom system that can be used during the stormy season in the concrete-lined portion of the Tijuana River Channel. FULL ARTICLE