Fed up neighbors in Imperial Beach are taking action over the pollution problem. The coastline in South County has been plagued by sewage spills coming from Mexico for years.
On Saturday morning, dozens of volunteers spent the day cleaning the beach.
“Today we are helping to make the world a better, cleaner place,” Imperial Beach Resident, Nabile Gutierrez, told NBC 7.
Gutierrez brought her 4-year-old son, Franky, to the beach cleanup, to set a good example.
“It is concerning. This is where my son comes to visit the ocean to play around on the beach and it is pretty concerning,” said Gutierrez, referring to the ongoing pollution troubles in the area.
After spending the morning cleaning the sand, neighbors took to the streets to demand clean water.
Holding signs, and repeating protest chants, demonstrators marched on the Imperial Beach Pier and then held a rally.
The event was organized by The Surfrider Foundation. Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina addressed the crowd.
Children and adults are marching for Clean Water at #ImperialBeach. 🚽 People are tired of having to stay out of the water due to sewage overflow from #Tijuana into #SanDiego beaches. @SurfriderSD@nbcsandiego@Telemundo20#cleanwater#Beachpic.twitter.com/gjXG8H3PIA
— Ana Cristina Sánchez (@ACristinaTLMD20) April 13, 2019
“We will continue to fight for clean water and beaches,” exclaimed Dedina over a megaphone.
Since a huge spill 2017, millions of gallons of sewage have poured into the Pacific Ocean from Tijuana. The problem goes back many years before that.
“We don’t know what pollution is in that sand,” said Christine Vella, a longtime Imperial Beach resident.
Vella believes a lot of her family’s health issues have been caused by pollution in the water. She had a strong message for politicians on both sides of the border.
“If this was next to their town, this wouldn’t be happening. These politicians just don’t get it. Maybe they should come down there and live with us for a few months and what we breathe on a daily basis,” said Vella.
With the help of environmental groups, like the Surfrider Foundation, neighbors in Imperial Beach are organizing.
Former Border Patrol Agent Chris Harris, who also spoke during Saturday’s march, explained the potential health risks agents face because of the pollution coming from Tijuana. Harris called on California officials to take action.
Lawsuits have been filed against the U.S. government to come up with a solution. Local leaders have had several meetings with Mexican government officials, but no solid agreements have been made to deal with the sewage flows.