Rep. Peters Urges Congress to Support President Biden’s Request for $310 Million for South Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant
December 19, 2023
Washington, DC – Today, Representative Scott Peters (CA-50) along with California Representatives Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Mike Levin (CA-49), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Katie Porter (CA-47), Adam Schiff (CA-30), and Juan Vargas (CA-49) as well as former Navy SEALs and current Representatives Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Derrick Van Orden (WI-03), and Ryan Zinke (MT-01), urged leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to include President Biden’s $310 million supplemental budget request to repair the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (SBIWTP) in any upcoming funding package.
The plant, which was constructed in 1997 to treat sewage originating from Baja California, Mexico has not been properly maintained for decades, causing raw sewage to pollute San Diego’s beaches, jeopardizing the health and safety of South Bay residents and U.S. Navy SEAL special operation forces who train in these waters.
In their letter, the members state, “Navy SEAL training in Coronado is often forced to move ocean training events to different locations to ensure our warfighters are not sickened by polluted waters containing fecal matter. Similarly, federal Homeland Security agents assigned to the region have identified extensive hazards they confront when patrolling the Tijuana River Valley. An inability to train for military operations or patrol our nation’s border represents an unacceptable risk to our national security and to the health of our servicemembers and law enforcement personnel.”
The letter continues, “Without this additional funding, SBIWTP is forced to keep pumping untreated water into the ocean, threatening the health and national security of the region.”
While the San Diego congressional delegation secured $300 million in 2019 to double the plant’s capacity, members learned in June that it needs hundreds of millions of dollars for necessary repairs before it can be expanded.
The full text of the letter can be found here and below.
In October, Rep. Peters led a bipartisan letter to the Department of State demanding a full account of how the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (SBIWTP) fell into such a severe state of disrepair. In September, he proposed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill to boost U.S.- Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Grant Program (BWIP) funding. Additionally, he proposed two amendments to the Fiscal Year 2024 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill (SFOPS) to boost annual construction funding to the USIBWC to $100 million. In August, he led two letters to the Office of Management and Budget and to OMB and the State Department, calling for urgent additional funding to confront this crisis. In July, members of the San Diego congressional delegation requested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assist with directing environmental justice funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to help stop the flow of pollutants and urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to tour the broken plant. Earlier in July, they sent a letter to President Biden and submitted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024, calling on the administration to declare this crisis a federal emergency. In June, 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. In previous years, Peters along with colleagues, has secured funding, introduced legislation, called for investigations, and arranged a visit by EPA Administrator Regan in response to the wastewater contamination crisis.