The feds are finally taking action on wastewater. Now they need to correct the border delays.


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It was a week when many of us were rightly celebrating the reopening of the US-Mexico border to people traveling north to shop, see family and friends, or just visit. But the US Environmental Protection Agency announced $ 630 million No less important was the plan to build a new pumping system in the Tijuana River north of the US-Mexico border to prevent sewage from reaching California shores. The plan has several components, including dramatically increasing the capacity of the South Bay international sewage treatment plant at the border to ensure that much cleaner runoff reaches the United States, and l The goal is to launch the project in 2023 and complete it by 2030. Finally, major progress is no longer a pipe dream of the decades-old problem of Tijuana’s sewage that so often clogs San County beaches. Diego.

When did Border Field State Park, Imperial Beach Pier, and Silver Strand State Beach all first close beaches for at least 200 days per year? All the way back to 2010. This is nonsense.

Yet the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have offered only vague rhetoric on the problem. It wasn’t until May 2020, when Trump’s White House desperately sought to rally voices to enact the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, that progress was made. It was around this time that California Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and San Diego Area House Members Susan Davis, Mike Levin, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas jointly announced that the EPA was officially proceeding with a $ 300 million plan to prevent sewage from the Tijuana River from reaching county beaches. It would not have taken a matching deal for the federal government to finally tackle this problem. But at least action has finally been taken.

Now is the time for the local House Members and the Senses. Feinstein and Alex Padilla address another long-standing local border issue on which the US government has not done enough.

Crossing borders takes too long too often.

From 2004 to 2015, the U.S. government spent $ 741 million to significantly expand and improve the San Ysidro port of entry. The 62 northbound inspection booths spread over 34 lanes were supposed to greatly accelerate border crossings. But starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, a website run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency showed that only six lanes were open – and that the wait time for regular drivers without the SENTRI pass was 135 minutes.

This comes to the point made in a joint Union-Tribune comment last week by Carlos Jaramillo, chairman of the Tijuana Economic Development Council, and Gustavo De La Fuente, executive director of the San Diego-Tijuana Smart Border Coalition: “The level of United States Port of entry staff to process travelers … have not always kept up with the ebb and flow of travelers. “

This was true even when pandemic restrictions reduced cross-border travel. And that’s been true since Monday, when the United States started letting “non-essential” vaccinated travelers enter San Diego at San Ysidro, one of the busiest border crossings in the world.

Yes, of course, there are complications. Customs and border protection remain understaffed and have been strained by staff infections with COVID-19. But drivers’ long waits at the border are not just a drawback. They harm the regional binational economy and increase toxic emissions from vehicles.

With Biden and Congress on a prolonged spending spree over infrastructure and climate change, the San Ysidro standoff is unacceptable. Why are so few lanes open on a busy Wednesday afternoon? CBP should let Congress know exactly what it would take to have fast and safe passage times, and our congressional delegation should make that a reality. Don’t let it take decades more to fix.


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