San Diego’s top water quality official worries that a new desalination plant in Mexico could worsen the decades-long problem of sewage spilling across the border into the United States.
The connection between that plant and sewage spills may not be obvious. But there are three connections: wastewater management, money and politics.
For years, Mexican officials have been working to build a desalination plant in Rosarito Beach that would eventually make 100 million gallons a day of Pacific Ocean water drinkable.
David Gibson, executive director of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, says the new desalination plant could siphon money from the already strained Tijuana sewer system.
That worry grew more acute after a recent spill sent millions of gallons of sewage north through the Tijuana River in February, causing foul odors and closing beaches in the South Bay. A collapsed sewer line is believed to be responsible for making the spill the largest in over a decade – though an investigation by U.S. and Mexican officials is still trying to pin down exactly what happened.
As the scope of that spill became clear, Gibson wrote on March 2 to the International Boundary and Water Commission, a binational agency that is supposed to help settle differences along the border.