SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have dramatically improved water quality in two problematic areas along the California-Mexico border.
The bill included $50 million to clean up the New River, which runs from Baja California to the Salton Sea near Palm Springs and another $50 million for the Tijuana River Valley.
The Tijuana River Valley has been plagued for decades with trash, debris, chemicals and raw sewage from Mexico that end up north of the border, with much of the pollution flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
“That was supposed to stop sewage flows and trash coming across the border,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. “Unfortunately, Gov. Newsom vetoed that legislation and funding.”
Dedina’s city has traditionally been the most affected by the materials, especially the raw sewage, that comes from Mexico forcing beach closures in Imperial Beach.
“This has been the worst summer,” said Dedina. “The day we heard about the veto there was another 120 million gallon sewage spill that had just followed a 600 million gallon flow. The governor might as well had hit us with a sledgehammer.”
Dedina stated that he and his constituents feel “demoralized” by the governor’s veto.
“Our southern part of the beach has been closed 100 percent of the time this year, the main part of our beach 135 days, and Coronado has been closed up to 60 days most of the summer,” he said.
Dedina described Newsom’s actions as “adding insult to injury” and a “nail in the coffin.”
“People think we’ve been abandoned by the state of California,” Dedina said. “We thought the state of California was our ally in this and it looks like, ‘really, we’re not interested in helping you at all’ and that’s really unfortunate.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has already pledged hundreds of millions of dollars for cleanup efforts along the Valley, money that will be spent on both sides of the border, but the work is years away.
Dedina said money from the state would have gone a long way.
“Every bit helps,” he said.
Newsom reportedly said he vetoed the bill out of concern the state is looking at lower than predicted revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.
“My Administration remains committed to addressing water quality and environmental equity issues at cross-border rivers, which is why I have supported funding this work,” said Newsom. “However, with our state facing lower-than-expected revenues over the first few months, it is important to remain disciplined.”
Newsom also stated California has already given $35 million to address the Tijuana and New River pollution issues in the last two years, money that hasn’t been spent.