Term Paper: San Diego-Tijuana Water Epidemic

Pages: 6 (1496 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] San Diego later cancelled those plans and this prompted the federal governments to delay the program until 1998. Citing San Diego's change in construction plans as well as the famed San Diego flood troubles the plans were placed on hold until at least 1998, which consequently cost the city of San Diego many tourist revenue dollars (Drought PG 56). In recent years environmentalists have determined the problem is getting worse and the quality of the water being contaminated continues to deteriorate (State, PG).

Water quality is deteriorating along the border largely due to over development (Drought PG 56). In 1991, the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association described the border region as "a virtual cesspool" of pollution and disease, noting that 46 million liters (about 13-15 million gallons) of raw sewage flow each day into the Tijuana River. Much of the sewage that enters the river in Mexico and crosses the border, sometimes referred to as "renegade" flows, and travels through aged, inadequate or non- existent pipelines (San Diego Water Pollution (SANDIEGO) (http://ask.elibrary.com/getdoc.asp?pubname)."

In addition to the raw sewage contamination there is now a large mosquito problem because the breeding is out of control due to the desirable sewage areas for them to breed in. Beaches are becoming dangerous as swimmers are now in danger of contracting several diseases including Hepatitis, and dysentery (Drought PG 56). One of the most common illnesses that swimmers in the area suffer from is gastroenteritis (Drought PG 56). It is an illness that causes severe stomach cramping, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. The swimmers are contracting this in the San Diego waters because of the sewage being dumped there out of the Tijuana water system.

The release of sewage particles into the water, called organic loading, can block sunlight and in the process prevent normal plant growth and photosynthesis. Sediment that settles on the ocean floor can kill off bottom-feeders like brittle stars, sea urchins, starfish, sea worms, clams, and mollusks as well as an entire generation of kelp plants (Drought PG 56)."

While San Diego angrily points the finger at Tijuana others are also pointing at San Diego. The city has been threatened with fines over $3 million on the past for not reporting its own sewage spills and dumps to the proper authorities. "In March, 1991, U.S. District Court Judge Rudi Brewster imposed a $3 million fine, citing 3,701 spills between July 1983 and December 1990 that released 99 million gallons of raw sewage and contributed to some 400 health quarantines of beaches and public waterways. One of the worst sewage spills in the nation's history took place at Point Loma in February, 1992, when an outfall pipe ruptured. Bacteria counts soared to more than 1,000 times the legal limit, prompting local officials to close beaches from the border to the mouth of the San Diego River for about two months (San Diego Water Pollution (Drought PG 56)."

Current estimates for the retaining wall planned many years ago are topping $235 million. Originally Mexico has pledged to commit $41 million to the project and Congress recently committed $58 million to its implementation. This was less than $70 million that former President Bill Clinton wanted to commit from federal funding. Many short-term solutions have been proposed including cleanup funding for the contaminated water as well as a plan to chlorinate the water that is contaminated before it reaches the United States side of the border.

Overall both nations have agreed to participate fully in correcting the problem. Each country has pledged funding to stop the drainage from the Tijuana side to the United States side. As the nations move into the future it will become imperative to choose a solution and implement it for the financial and health factors of the San Diego residents and tourists.


San Diego Water Pollution (SANDIEGO)(Accessed, 5-15-2002)


Department of State, Treaties in Force: Bilateral Treaties & Other Agreements: 'Mexico'., U.S. History, 09-01-1990.

____. DROUGHT MAGNIFIES IMPORTANCE OF U.S.-MEXICO WATER DISPUTES. SourceMex - Economic & Political News on Mexico, PG 56

McDonnell, Patrick. "U.S., Mexico Sign Pact on Sewage Plant." Los Angeles Times (July 3, 1990): A25.

____. National Research Council. Monitoring Southern California's

Coastal Waters. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, [END OF PREVIEW]

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"San Diego-Tijuana Water Epidemic."  Essaytown.com.  May 15, 2002.  Accessed April 22, 2019.