The county has implemented a new DNA-based water testing system for water pollution. It’s supposed to detect bacteria faster, but has resulted in more beach closures.
IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — Happiness comes in waves, or so people in Coronado Beach and Imperial Beach say after visiting this weekend and not being able to get into the ocean.
Many have driven to these beaches hoping to get in the water, but once they arrive, instead of crowded shores, they are greeted by a deserted beach and “avoid” signs.
“They strongly recommend that we don’t go in the water,” said Gaby Mendoza, who hosted a family reunion at the beach, only to find they couldn’t get in the water.
The beach closures come after the county announced that coastal areas in the southern bay continued to be impacted by the flow of sewage from Tijuana, causing contamination of those oceans.
Although dirty water shutoffs have been a problem for decades, county officials recently implemented a new DNA-based water testing system that’s giving them faster results.
However, this new test caused a disagreement with city officials and asked the county to reconsider.
“Go back to the old tests so they can fix the problems instead of using this system which has resulted in a lot more beach closures. With our bi-national testing, it turned out to be clean, so we have serious concerns,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.
Imperial Beach was closed for 30 days, while Coronado, which was once named the best beach in America, was closed for 17 days.
“It’s a shame that the county seems to be oblivious to our concerns. It is also shameful that they are reckless and empathetic about the impacts the closures have had on our region,” Dedina said.
Adding that this new system harms local businesses and tourism. CBS 8 saw businesses already affected by the closures. Kimmy Nolan, who owns Vitamin C Wellness, a health and wellness store in Imperial Beach, said: “Business has been slow for weeks.”
She also said: “We’ve noticed over the past two weeks that it’s just not as crowded as we normally are. If the beaches are close, people aren’t going to venture out.”
While some families have warned their children to stay away from water to avoid getting sick.
“It just seems unsanitary, you don’t know what can come of it,” Mendoza said. Others didn’t let contamination stop them from catching the waves.
In a written statement, Vice Nora Vargas says:
For too long, our coastal communities in South Bay have been disproportionately affected by sewage outflows into our ocean. Residents, community organizations and local governments have been fighting for decades to keep our beaches safe. San Diego County led efforts in the region, alongside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Public Health, Southern California Coastal Waters Research Project and the State Water Resources Board. We are the first in the country to launch a new water DNA testing method that takes us from two-day results to same-day results for a more accurate picture to inform beachgoers. The test data confirmed what the advocates said, Imperial Beach, Silver Strand and Coronado beaches show contaminants in the water. The health and safety of our families and visitors is our top priority. Our families and our children deserve to swim in clean water and should not have to risk their health to enjoy the beach. We know these closures are impacting our residents, businesses and visitors and we will do everything we can to ensure our beautiful beaches open up safely for all to enjoy. To address this public health care crisis, we secured $300 million in funding for Tijuana River Valley Improvement Projects through the USMCA and are working with our state and federal partners. to get another $300 million. We are committed to continuing to work with community organizations, federal and state partners, and the Mexican government to find timely solutions. The people of San Diego County deserve better.
WATCH RELATED: San Diego County Unveils New Water Testing Technologygie to provide same-day public warnings (May 2022).