There is a problem at some of San Diego’s beaches, and it stinks! Rain has uncharacteristically pounded Southern California in recent weeks, making an ongoing problem even more potent. Estimates suggest billions of gallons of sewage have been spewing into San Diego ocean waters. To those visiting San Diego, this may be a surprise.
To those who live in San Diego, it’s just another day. What’s different about the issue now is that it’s not limited to one beach anymore. The pollution has spread north, causing additional beach closures and advisories in some of San Diego’s most popular destinations for tourists.
Sewage in South Bay
The southern region of San Diego is known as South Bay. Within this region lies the laid-back beach town of Imperial Beach, which is the southernmost beach in California. This is the only beach that backs up to the U.S.-Mexico border. For years, this community has dealt with sewage leaks infiltrating their beaches. In a nutshell, a game of political finger-pointing has ended up going nowhere. Now in 2023, the issue is unsolved and becoming a bigger and, arguably, harder problem to tackle.
Imperial Beach was forced to close down this week. Sadly, that’s not uncommon. What is uncommon, and what travelers should know, is the beaches that tourists frequently visit are also closed or placed under advisory.
According to local news, a broken 60-inch pipeline near the border is to blame for the latest influx of untreated sewage spills. While that may sound like a simple fix, there are conflicting reports on what’s going on behind the curtain. There is no clear answer to the next steps. What travelers should know is rain makes it worse, a lot worse. You can all but guarantee certain beach closures for a minimum of 72 hours after a storm. It would be wise for travelers to check the weather forecast before making vacation plans to beaches ranging from Imperial Beach to La Jolla.
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According to TripAdvisor’s most recent rankings of the Best US Beaches for 2022, San Diego is home to 2 of the top 10. Both have been affected by sewage recently. These are the areas that have closed recently or are designated as under advisory:
- Imperial Beach – Closed
- Silver Strand – Closed
- Coronado Beach (ranked #8) – Closed
- Children’s Pool in La Jolla – Under Advisory
- Torrey Pines at the Penasquitos Lagoon – Under Advisory
- San Diego River Dog Beach in Ocean Beach – Under Advisory
- La Jolla Cove (ranked #10) – Under Advisory
- Tijuana Slough – Closed
Coronado shorelines were also forced to close as it is the nearest beach to Imperial Beach. While it doesn’t happen often, Coronado’s beaches have been contaminated before, but not usually to the point of a full closure.
La Jolla Cove is one of the most northern beaches in San Diego, as well as a popular tourist destination. The fact that this beach is under advisory speaks volumes to the massive amount of bacteria permeating through San Diego’s waters since it is approximately 26 miles away from Imperial Beach.
“We have finally secured enough money to improve infrastructure that is needed to reduce beach closures, but that takes time because it has to go through a legal process that’s going to take a few more years before we can see shovels in the ground.” Mayor of Imperial Beach, Paloma Aguirre
More Related Issues
Tijuana is the major Mexican city that borders Imperial Beach. One additional issue related to sewage spills is their main sewage treatment plant has been shut down for years due to a lack of funds. While Mexican officials have stated their plans to restore the plant in the near future, this problem isn’t going away overnight. Tijuana does not treat their sewage and directs the run-off straight into the ocean. When rain falls, that sewage flows into U.S. waters.
What some may find equally concerning is that a recent study uncovered that the toxins from the sewage are now airborne across certain parts of San Diego. There is no evidence of immediate or long-term illness caused by these airborne particles, but the fact that this issue isn’t going away could deter travelers from making San Diego their next beach getaway. Ultimately, that decision is up to them.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Sunday 12th of March 2023
This has been happening since I grew up in Imperial Beach in the 60s. All the environmentalist scream about fixing our planet, and yet nothing has been done to fix this. What hypocrites.
Tuesday 14th of March 2023
@Benjamin, so what’s the solution? Obviously the gov. doesn’t care, nor do the people who scream and preach at us everyday to do the right thing don’t care. And stop screaming in all caps. The sewage system needs to be fixed in both countries.
Tuesday 14th of March 2023
Monday 13th of March 2023
@Isabelle, Yeah,The Fact of the matter is POLLUTION AND BILLIONS OF GALLONS OF HUMAN FECES COMING FROM MEXICO AND SANOFRE THEN HB TO THE NORTHERN COAST.WHEN IS IT GOING TO STOP.THIS PROBLEM WILL END UP CAUSING PEOPLE THAT LIVE AND VISIT GETTING DEATHLY ILL,BUT ALL THAT IS THROWN UNDER THE OCEAN BECAUSE OF TOURIST. HOW PATHETIC. BENJAMIN ROSS