San Diego Congressional Delegation, Governor Celebrate $156 Million in Funding to Help Combat Cross-Border Sewage Pollution 

Washington, D.C. – Last week, U.S. Senators Laphonza Butler and Alex Padilla (both D-CA) along with California representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA-52), Scott Peters (D-CA-50), Sara Jacobs (D-CA-51), Mike Levin (D-CA-49), Darrell Issa (R-CA-48), and California Governor Gavin Newsom celebrated the inclusion of over $156 million for the U.S. International Boundary Water Commission in the bipartisan government funding bill. The funding can be used for critical repairs to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant to help combat cross-border pollution. 


“There is still more work to be done to make San Diegans feel safe, but this federal, state, and local partnership is a testament to good governance and puts us on track to keeping our shores clean and free of pollution,” said Senator Laphonza Butler. “Last week, I got an up-close look at the raw sewage and other pollutants endangering San Diego’s environment and public health, and I know how critical this investment is. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue Senator Feinstein’s legacy on such an important issue and to have worked alongside the House delegation representing San Diego, Senator Padilla, and Governor Newsom to secure this funding.”


“For far too long, toxic waste and raw sewage have flowed across the border, not only endangering public health and the environment, but jeopardizing the readiness of our military personnel,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “The additional funding and flexibility included in this package to repair and expand the wastewater treatment facility is a major step forward. I will keep fighting for resources and working with my colleagues to finally resolve the Tijuana River pollution crisis.”


“The package announced yesterday secures urgently needed federal funding – over $100 million more than last year – to help repair the federal South Bay plant and fix the sewage crisis that San Diego communities have dealt with for far too long. This is important progress to address the ongoing challenge, and I thank Senators Padilla and Butler, our Congressional delegation, local and state partners, and all the leaders who have pushed for years to deliver these needed resources. Congress must act quickly to approve this funding, our communities cannot afford to wait,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.


“For too long, our communities have been plagued by toxic pollution and environmental injustice. This funding is a critical step towards combating harmful pollutants, balancing environmental equity, and ensuring the health and safety of families on both sides of the border,” said Rep. Juan Vargas. “However, our work is far from over. I’ll keep fighting, with my Congressional Delegation colleagues, to address this pollution to restore the health of our communities and our waterways.”


“After years of steadfast advocacy from residents, servicemembers, and elected officials at every level, we’ve managed to get a real commitment from Washington to address this crisis,” said Rep. Scott Peters. “While this is not a ‘mission accomplished’ moment or the end of my work to ensure these hazardous pollutants no longer endanger San Diegans, this is enough money to keep us on track to break ground this year and proceed toward doubling the plant’s capacity. We will need to secure the remaining funds to realize sewage-free beaches and pollutant-free air, but this victory adds to our momentum.”

“I love bragging about San Diego and our incredible weather, beaches, and amazing people – but the Tijuana River Valley crisis is nothing to brag about and it has made life harder and less safe for so many San Diegans,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs. “No one wants to live, work, relax, or travel in an area marked by polluted water and air. That’s why I’m proud that we secured $156 million in federal funds that will make a significant dent in solving this problem once and for all. Our San Diego congressional delegation, along with our state and local partners, will keep working until the health and safety of families on both sides of the border are protected.”

“For decades, the Tijuana River Valley pollution crisis has marred our coasts, threatened our communities’ health, and damaged our ecosystems,” said Rep. Mike Levin. “I’m proud our delegation secured $156 million to clean up this toxic threat, but we still have work to do. This crisis was the result of years of neglect at the wastewater treatment plant. Going forward, it’s essential that we continue to provide the resources to ensure a disaster like this never happens again.”

“This funding is an opportunity for the IBWC to not only rebuild and reset critical infrastructure, but also establish the new era of accountability that must accompany it,” said Rep. Darrell Issa. “While this project must go forward to completion and meet a daily and critical need of our region, we owe it to taxpayers to demand and receive a clear and coherent plan for how we get there. That’s why I will continue to stand with my colleagues in the San Diego delegation and local leaders as we work together towards our shared goal: A South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant that performs as promised and finally fixes a problem decades in the making.” 

In 2019, the San Diego congressional delegation secured $300 million to expand the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant from 25 million gallons per day to 50 million gallons per day. In 2022, the San Diego congressional delegation successfully passed legislation to clear the path for the International Boundary and Water Commission to use the funds to address harmful pollutants in the Tijuana River Valley. 


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