California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board announced plans on Monday to sue the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission for violating the Clean Water Act.
The Commission is charged with protecting citizens on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and managing wastewater discharges from the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant. Becerra and the water board allege that it has allowed over 12 million gallons of untreated wastewater to flow into California from Mexico since 2015—a violation of both the Clean Water Act and a permit issued by the San Diego Water Board. Together, the attorney general and the water board sent the Commission a 60-day notice of intent to sue, which gives the agency a chance to improve its infrastructure and stop the flow of sewage.
Contamination has been an issue in the Tijuana River Valley for decades, and has already impacted human health; the U.S. Border Patrol began soliciting private industry contractors to clean up the hazardous materials after agents complained of rashes, respiratory problems, and other health issues after working in the polluted area.
"For far too long, uncontrolled sewage spills have polluted and impaired the Tijuana River Valley and Pacific Ocean. This must stop," Becerra said in a statement. "It's our duty to protect the public health and natural resources of the people of California. We will do what is necessary to get those responsible to clean up this mess."