Thanks to the orientation of the west coast southwest of San Diego, the continental shelf that protects us from the impact of localized storm surges of the North Pacific, the distant waves of the southern ocean and a temperate climate, San Diego beaches are safe and pleasant practically all year round.
San DiegoCounty public health officials had made that call for decades for beach lovers. The yellow and red banners have clearly told people to stay out of the water as a result of Tijuana's pollution, which routinely causes the waves to turn brown and stinky. The previous beaches remain under notice.
Beach lovers are informed that bacteria levels have exceeded CA health standards and can cause illness. Some, such as Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina and County Supervisor Nora Vargas, chose to stay out of the water, partly to set a good example for residents. With its great weather, miles of sandy beaches and major attractions, San Diego is known around the world as one of the best tourist destinations and a great place for residents to relax all year round. In the past, county-mandated closures largely occurred when rain sent runoff contaminated with wastewater and chemicals across the Tijuana River into the Imperial Beach estuary and out to sea.
State law also requires local health officials to issue closures if it is known that there is an untreated wastewater discharge adjacent to a public beach or a wastewater discharge known to have reached recreational waters. When campers can't get in the water, they can participate in everything from sandcastle competitions to archery, rock climbing and other sports. In response, San Diego County has a beach water safety system so that bathers know if it's okay to go swimming or, better, stay on the sand. In the first month of implementation, ddPCR test results have determined levels of bacteria in the water that exceed state health standards on beaches in the south of the county.
An important proposal is to redirect wastewater currently being pumped to Punta Bandera to an expanded South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant along the border in San Diego. In doing so, it's important to address the root cause of the problem and the sources that pollute beach waters. Mexico is also developing plans to replace the facility, known as the San Antonio de los Buenos wastewater treatment plant, EPA officials said. San Diego is the first coastal county in the nation to institute a federally approved water quality test using DNA technology.
With the generous support of readers like you, Times of San Diego publishes timely and accurate news for a better-informed community. On beaches in the south of the county, where the community is disproportionately affected by transboundary wastewater flows from Mexico and the Tijuana River Valley, samples are taken every day.