Last month, in the the Tijuana River Valley in an area known as Goat Canyon, a major clean up took place. Heavy machines scooped up plastic bottles, diapers, tires and other pieces of trash and hauled them away.

On a tour of the area Monday, what seemed to be thousands of pieces of trash were back. Despite all that trash, Corey Pukini with the group Wildcoast says it was actually the cleanest he’d seen it in some time. Some indication of how dirty the area can get.

Water from the Tijuana River flows north from Mexico and exits into the ocean in Imperial Beach. It carries with it trash and pollution from south of the border.

“It hurts to see especially for someone from a biology conservation background,” said Pukini.

Pukini says the problem is getting worse because Tijuana is growing faster than the city’s infrastructure.

“That’s a mega city up there on the hill and what we are seeing is more and more single plastics making their way out into the ocean,” he said.

Wildcoast’s Fay Crevoshay blames much of the pollution on the Punta Bandera sewage treatment plant about 10 miles south of the border. She says promised fixes haven’t been made and the plant is spewing 40 million gallons of mostly raw sewage into the ocean every day.

The pollution forced Imperial Beach to close it’s beaches 260 days last year. Crevoshay says those that ventured into the water got sick with ear and stomach infections.

“We need to prioritize the cleaning of the water, upgrade the sewage plant,” she said.

Wildcoast organizes regular cleanups in the area to remove trash. It’s also working to raise funds to help fix the plants south of the border. Crevoshay says it will take about $5 to $6 million to rebuild the plant at Punta Bandera. She encourages people to call their lawmakers and urge action on clean water.

“We have to work together this two countries one environment this is one ecosystem what happens there effects us here, what happens here effects them.”

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