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Release Date: 1/27/1998
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

    (San Francisco)--U.S. EPA and the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) today announced detailed long-term sewage treatment options for the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (SBIWTP) in San Diego, Calif.  The agencies are calling for comments from the public before making a decision on which option to choose.  The plant is designed to treat excess sewage from Tijuana and prevent it from flowing into the United States through the Tijuana River Valley.

     "This is an important aspect of solving the sewage problem in the Tijuana River and along beaches near the international border," said Alexis Strauss, acting director of U.S. EPA's western regional water division.  "We are soliciting comments of all affected parties before we make the decision regarding this aspect of the plant."

    "The selection of a long term treatment option for this international plant will assure that the governments of the United States and Mexico satisfactorily resolve a common environmental concern that will benefit residents from both countries," said John Bernal, Commissioner of the United States Section of the  International Boundary Water Commission. "We fully anticipate Mexico's continuing cooperation in addressing environmental issues of common concern."

     One option is to operate the plant at the advanced primary level, which removes solid materials from the wastewater.  The wastewater would then be discharged to the ocean, via an outfall, at a depth of 93 feet, 3.5 miles offshore.  The outfall, which was included in the original design for the plant, is included in all options.  Construction of the outfall is scheduled for completion later this year.

     A second set of options includes additional treatment by the activated sludge process, which uses microorganisms to break down organic matter in the wastewater, thus removing additional pollutants.  The major difference between the four options in this category is the level of treatment available for peak sewage flows.

     The third alternative would add secondary treatment ponds to the existing advanced primary treatment process.  Such ponds allow further decomposition of pollutants by natural processes.  This plan identifies two potential sites for the ponds: The Hofer Property, adjacent to the Treatment Plant, and the Spooner's Mesa, west of the Treatment Plant.

     The International Wastewater Treatment Plant is one of several joint projects conducted by the United States and Mexico to address the rapid growth of population and industry along the international border, and the environmental problems that accompany that growth.  In 1990, the two countries agreed to build the plant on the U.S. side of the border as part of a regional solution.  The plant demonstrates the importance the two nations, along with the state of California and city of San Diego,  place on restoring the environmental quality of  the common border that has been plagued by sanitation problems for over 50 years.
      The plant, operated by IBWC, will treat up to 25 million gallons of sewage per day when fully operational.  Until the completion of the South Bay Ocean Outfall in the summer of 1998, any treated wastewater will be discharged to the city of San Diego wastewater plant at Pt. Loma.

     Details of each of these alternatives are revealed in the Long-Term Treatment Options Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).  Copies of this document, which was published in the Federal Register on January 23, will be available for inspection at the locations listed below.  Interested parties are invited to air their concerns at a public meeting on Monday, March 2, 1998, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Southwest High School, 1685 Hollister St., San Diego.  Written comments on the treatment options may be submitted during the 45-day public comment period, which ends March 9, 1998, and should be addressed to:

Charles Fischer              or    Elizabeth Borowiec
U.S. IBWC San Ysidro Office        U.S. EPA Region 9
2225 Dairy Mart Rd.                75 Hawthorne St.
San Diego, CA 92173                San Francisco, CA 94105
(619) 662-7600                     (415) 744-1165

Requests for information or copies of the SEIS can also be directed to them.
     Information on the project is also available on the Region 9 web site at under Water Programs.  During the public comment period, the SEIS will be available for public inspection at the following locations:

San Diego Central Library          Imperial Beach Library
Reference Section                  Reference Section
810 Imperial Beach Boulevard       810 Imperial Beach Blvd.
Imperial Beach, Calif.             San Diego, Calif.

Otay Mesa Branch Library           San Ysidro Library
Reference Section                  Reference Section
3003 Coronado Avenue               101 W. San Ysidro Blvd.
San Diego, Calif.                  San Ysidro, Calif.                

Otay Mesa Branch Library           National City Library
Reference Section                  Reference Section
3003 Coronado Avenue               200 E. 12th St.
San Diego, Calif.                  National City, Calif.

Coronado Library                   Chula Vista Library
Reference Section                  Reference Section
640 Orange Avenue                  365 F St.
Coronado, Calif.                   Chula Vista, Calif.

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