Where Did Millions of Gallons of Raw Sewage Leak From? — Voice of San Diego

Water passes from Tijuana to the International Wastewater Treatment Plant through a grated drain that helps collect waste. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Officials on both sides of the US-Mexico border haven’t quite figured out – and agreed – why millions of gallons of sewage laden water spill for weeks and found its way into the Tijuana River on the San Diego side.

But one thing is clear: something is clogging the system.

US officials believe the sewage leaked from a crack in a concrete pipe in Mexico that carries sewage from Tijuana to a US treatment plant. Mexican officials deny the pipe is the problem and believe the problem could be something else. One possible culprit is an aging infrastructure on the US side that is under investigation.

In a new story, MacKenzie Elmer writes that the disagreement drew attention to a problem those working along the border already know: the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant in San Diego is in desperate need of repairs. Specifically, a trench in the ground that controls the flow of sewage from Mexico to the US treatment plant has a broken gate and other damage.

The binational agency that works on border water treaties has until the end of January to submit remediation plans. But doing the job on an international border has its challenges.

US officials are trying to figure out what can be done and how much money is needed to do it. Meanwhile, the doors are still broken.

Click here to read Elmer’s story.

All about this trash can

Rubbish at the Otay landfill on December 10, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

What a trashy month this has been.

A new state law has gone into effect requiring cities to reduce food waste in landfills. We will soon have to recycle food waste such as meat, bones, leftover vegetables and citrus peel. And in other trash-related news, you’ve probably heard of trash piling up in the city. Republic Services sanitation workers staged a month-long strike while bargaining for better pay and better work.

For the latest environmental report, Elmer provided an update on the county’s landfill capacity. One of the region’s major landfills, Otay Landfill owned by Republic Services, is expected to close in 2030, while another is expected to have capacity for at least another 30 years.

Click here to read more.

Omicron Wave stops most admissions to urban shelters

Most shelters in the city are still not accommodating homeless San Diegans amid a continued spike in coronavirus cases.

The Housing Commission reported 39 positive results among residents and staff at shelters run by Father Joe’s Villages and Alpha Project as of the end of last week. This adds to the 128 positives reported by the city over the previous three weeks as the omicron wave hit the region, a surge that late last month inspired a struggling to isolate people staying in crowded shelters due to a lack of county-supported hotel rooms typically used for this purpose.

At a City Council committee hearing on Monday, Housing Commission Executive Vice Chair Lisa Jones said the city and service providers set up 99 temporary isolation beds after residents County hotel rooms reached capacity in late December, as hospitals also rushed to secure isolation spaces for patient discharge.

Jones said more shelter residents are now moving into county hotel rooms.

The county reported late Monday that 140 shelter residents had temporarily moved to isolation hotels since Dec. 27. As of Saturday, 98 of the 137 rooms the county has available for this purpose were occupied, although the county noted that vacant rooms are not. “necessarily staffed and ready to be occupied.”

Hafsa Kaka, who heads the city’s homelessness strategies and solutions department, said Monday the city and county are now meeting twice a week to discuss their capacity for collective isolation, the latest COVID guidelines and how to keep shelter residents safe.

For now, Jones said, federal guidelines suggest shelters should halt admissions if they have three or more positive cases. This means Father Joe’s and Alpha Project, which each run several municipal shelters, were unable to accommodate new arrivals for weeks.

So far, Jones said, only Alpha Project’s harm reduction shelter focused on people with behavioral health issues in Midway and the downtown PATH shelter have been able to accommodate some clients.

Jones said she hopes other shelters in the city can start welcoming new clients soon and expects to give service providers the go-ahead to work overtime to move more. people quickly when that happens. She acknowledged that reopening shelters to newcomers could create its own COVID issues, but said the county has made it clear that city shelters are following all necessary protocols to keep residents safe.

“We had no indication that we needed to do anything differently than what we’re doing,” Jones said. “It’s just a reflection of the wider community, unfortunately.”

In other news

  • Less than a week after a photojournalist was killed in Tijuana, another was gunned down outside his home on Sunday. Journalist Lourdes Maldonado López was found dead in her car, the Union-Tribune reports. Maldonado had recently attended and spoke at a vigil for Margarito Martínez Esquivel, died on Monday of last week. So far this year, three journalists have been killed in Mexico.
  • San Diego child care centers are facing a massive staffing shortage — something brought on by both the pandemic and a general workforce trend in the industry. In a new series, KPBS has looked at pay disparities and other issues affecting local childcare providers.
  • Escondido and La Mesa police continue to illegally share license plate data with out-of-state agencies, inewsource reports.
  • San Diego Unified will host a public forum next month to give the public time to hear from its two superintendent finalists. (Union-Tribune)
  • Bloomberg laid out the $400 million Ponzi scheme that shook some in San Diego.

The morning report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Lisa Halverstadt and Megan Wood.

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