Reps. Peters, Vargas, Jacobs, & Levin Submit NDAA Amendment Calling for Federal Emergency Declaration for Tijuana River Valley
June 30, 2023
Washington, DC – Today, Representative Scott Peters (CA-50) introduced an amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), calling on the administration to declare the Tijuana River Valley wastewater contamination a federal emergency. The amendment also calls on the federal government to abide by Minute 328, the agreement with Mexico to reduce wastewater contamination through infrastructure projects on both sides of the border, to commit all resources needed to solve this environmental justice and public health crisis, and finds the contamination to be the largest ongoing environmental disaster in California. Specifically, Minute 328 commits the United States to double capacity at the South Bay International Treatment Plant from 25 million gallons per day (mgd) to 50 mgd. Representatives Juan Vargas (CA-52), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), and Mike Levin (CA-49) from the San Diego Congressional delegation joined as cosponsors of the effort.
“San Diegans, particularly the people we represent in south San Diego and Coronado, have been harmed by the pollution from the Tijuana River Valley for too, too long,” said Rep Peters. “Every level of government must work together to look for all possible solutions to end this nightmare. A federal emergency declaration would allow government agencies to coordinate more easily, give us quicker access to funds, and expedite construction timelines that could help abate this disaster. People are sickened, law enforcement can’t do their jobs, businesses are suffering, our oceans are badly polluted, and our Special Forces are training in ocean water that is filled with bacteria. This has to stop and only the federal government can make it happen. I would like to thank Representatives Vargas, Jacobs, and Levin for joining me in this effort.”
“It is paramount that we continue to take all actions possible to reduce harmful pollutants and ensure the health and safety of communities on both sides of the border,” said Rep. Vargas. “The situation at the Tijuana River Valley is a public health emergency, and it must be treated as one. This includes using any and all resources available to address this crisis. I thank my San Diego colleagues for their continued support to solve this problem, and I look forward to working with them toward a long overdue solution for our region.”
“San Diego is in the middle of another summer marked by beach closures, shuttered small businesses, and worsened health due to the sewage flowing through the Tijuana River Valley and up our coastline,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs. “This is a serious crisis – and it should be treated like one. That’s why I’m glad to join our San Diego congressional delegation to urge President Biden to declare a federal emergency and open every avenue of resources possible to give this crisis the national attention and resources it so badly needs.”
The resolution was introduced as an amendment to the NDAA because of the dangerous bacterial contamination to waters used by special operations forces including Navy SEALs which poses a threat to their health and limits their ability to train.
This week, the San Diego Congressional delegation sent a letter to President Biden calling on the administration to declare this crisis a federal emergency.
Last week, Rep Peters led a letter with other members of the San Diego Congressional delegation to the governor of Baja California urging accountability for the Mexican Government’s commitments to build wastewater treatment infrastructure.
Full text of the amendment here.