Imperial Beach, California-The shorelines of Tijuana Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and Imperial Beach were closed Thursday due to sewage runoff in the Tijuana River Valley.
Signs are now posted along the coast to warn tourists not to touch the water. This is just the latest closure in the decades-long battle against pollution of urban beaches that originated from the untreated sewage flowing into the ocean from the area.
Despite the yellow warning signs, many tourists jumped into the water on Thursday.
But not Tom Frumman, a resident of Empire Beach. Although he grew up surfing in these waters, he said that due to the level of pollution, he decided to stay away from it this time.
“We got here this morning, but there was no sign,” he said. “Back here. I brought a pair of fins because I was going to get out of the water and the sign was already on.”
As a retired paramedic, Vrooman said he does not recommend anyone to swim in this situation. He witnessed the health effects of this, and so did compatriot Joseph Dekang of Empire Beach.
“A terrible ear infection,” De Cong said. “Because of waves and pollution, respiratory infections, and staphylococcal infections, my ears were drilled.”
De Cong has been surfing on Imperial Beach for more than 30 years. The irony is, “The things we like most and are passionate about are often things that hurt us.”
“We are often willing to pay the price again and again,” De Cong said.
According to the San Diego County Beach and Bay Water Quality Plan, Imperial Beach is sampled daily, and the water quality in each state during the dry months is generally good. However, the cross-border flow from the Tijuana River may be transported by ocean currents, leading to closure.
The State Water Resources Control Board tests water for, e-coli, enterococci and total coliforms, all harmful bacteria can cause disease.
Local lifeguards do not recommend entering the water when there is pollution, but they will not try to stop anyone. However, if lifeguards rescue the beach when the contaminated waters are closed, the rescued person will be fined.
“They must realize that we have a problem,” Fruman said. “This is a big problem. It won’t go away. It’s not magic. It’s hard work.”