Press Releases

San Diego – Last week, Representatives  Scott Peters (CA-50), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), and Mike Levin (CA-49) sent a letter to U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, requesting answers to several questions about the effects cross-border pollution has had on Navy operations.

“As you know, the transboundary pollution flowing from Mexico into the United States is currently carrying untreated wastewater into San Diego County’s shoreline and ocean,” the letter says. “These flows have impacted water quality at beaches in our region—including those where Navy Seals regularly train.”

The letter notes that data provided by the Navy in February 2023 showed that cancellations of in-water training events at the Silver Strand Training Complex jumped from zero in FY2021 to more than 20 in FY2022.

“If the pollution in the [Tijuana River Valley] is not addressed, we are concerned that further training cancellations due to water quality concerns could harm the Navy and our military readiness,” the letter says.

The letter asks Del Toro for updated data on suspended or relocated training or operations, the cost of relocating or cancelling training or operations, whether Navy personnel have raised concerns about training in contaminated water, and whether the Navy is collecting data on the effects of polluted water on training.

Read the full letter.


Representative Peters has, for years, worked to address the cross-border pollution that’s fouling San Diego’s coastal waters, including pushing for additional funding to fix and expand the dilapidated South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (SBIWTP). In October, Rep. Peters led a bipartisan letter to the Department of State demanding a full account of how the 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 legislationcalled for investigations, and arranged a visit by EPA Administrator Regan in response to the wastewater contamination crisis.