New Study Aims to Understand the Tijuana River Flows

Created: 24 May, 2018
Last update: 20 April, 2022

By Ana Gomez Salcido

Photo Diana Rodríguez Mendioleá

A new study is evaluating the capacity and current conditions of the diversion system that is used to stop the cross border flow of the Tijuana River from the city of Tijuana to the United States. It also aims to identify the necessary improvements in infrastructure needed to reduce negative impacts to the water quality of the Pacific Ocean.

The International Boundary and Water Commission in coordination with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Commission of Water (Conagua), the North American Development Bank, and the State Commission of Public Service in Tijuana (Cespt) held a meeting last week, to meet the consultant company selected to do the study, and to share the information of the goals of the study.

The study is expected to provide technical feasible options to address the improvement or expansion of existing infrastructure, or the construction of complementary infrastructure in Mexico or the U.S. It is also expected to optimize the operation of existing structures during and after a storm in order to reduce the duration of cross border flows of pluvial, among others.

The Tijuana River flows from Mexico to the U.S. and runs all the way to the Pacific Ocean through the Tijuana river estuary.

The water of the river is eventually made up of rainwater, effluents from treatment plants located in Mexico, and wastewater without control and by unknown sources. Some of these flow components may deteriorate the quality of the river water and cause the closure of beaches in the Southwest of San Diego County.

In addition to the pollutants present in the water, the river can carry solid waste and sediments, which can affect the crucial infrastructure operation.

In the dry season, river flows are captured by the existing infrastructure in the manner intended. However, under certain conditions such as failures in the infrastructure of diversion of the river or in the sanitary sewer system of Tijuana, the flows can make it to the U.S. During rain season, the flows constantly crosses to the U.S.

“[North American Development Bank] provides technical assistance with non-reimbursable resources of almost $240,000 through their program of assistance for the development of projects that operates with contributions by the EPA,” said Alex Hinojosa, general director of NADB. “We trust that this study will provide the best alternatives to increment the capacity of flow diversion, and to address this important cross border issue to benefit the residents of both sides of the border region.”

NADB has actively worked since 2016 with local, state and federal authorities to be part of the solution to fix the sewage spills to the Tijuana River. In the last 25 years, this institution has participated in water and sanitation projects with more than $138 millions in the Tijuana and Rosarito region.

NADB is a financial institution established and funded by contributions from the U.S. and Mexican governments. This institution is authorized to finance projects that will prevent, control or reduce environmental pollutants or contaminants, improve the drinking water supply, or protect flora and fauna, so as to improve human health, promote sustainable development, or contribute to a higher quality of life in the U.S.-Mexico border region.