Sea spray tainted with raw sewage found along California beach, study reveals

Sea spray tainted with RAW SEWAGE found at California beach: Scientists discover 13 billion gallons of polluted water flowed into the ocean from Mexico river last year

Californians vacationing at San Diego’s Imperial Beach are breathing in sea spray, aerosol particles formed from the ocean, polluted with raw sewage, new research reveals.

Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography found an estimated 13 billion gallons of polluted water have entered the Pacific Ocean through the Tijuana River since December 28, 2022.

Up to three-quarters of the bacteria floating in the air at the beach come from the aerosolization of raw sewage in the surf zone, suggesting swimmers and surfers are not the only ones impacted.

Sewage flowing from the river into the ocean has been an ongoing problem for  more than a decade.

The cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista filed a lawsuit against the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), alleging it violated the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by failing to take steps to control coastal sewage pollution.

A settlement was recently reached last month and IBWC agreed to increased cooperation with Mexican water authorities to prevent future sewage spills.

Scientist have found raw sewage particles in the sea spray flowing through Imperial Beach, which comes from polluted water from the Tijuana River. The river runs into the Pacific Ocea

Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which is located at the University of California, San Diego, began this research by sampling coastal aerosols at Imperial Beach and water from the Tijuana River between January and May 2019.

DNA sequencing and mass spectrometry was then implemented to link bacteria and chemical compounds in coastal aerosol back to the sewage-polluted Tijuana River flowing into coastal waters. 

‘Aerosols from the ocean were found to contain bacteria and chemicals originating from the Tijuana River,’ according to the team.

Most of the bacteria and viruses found in tainted sea spray are harmless. 

However, researchers are further investigating infectivity, exposure levels, and other factors that determine risk.

Lead author Matthew Pendergraft said in a statement: ‘This research demonstrates that coastal communities are exposed to coastal water pollution even without entering polluted waters.

‘More research is necessary to determine the level of risk posed to the public by aerosolized coastal water pollution. 

These findings provide further justification for prioritizing cleaning up coastal waters.’ 

The raw sewage has led to officials closing Imperil beach (pictured) down for half of 2022

The raw sewage has led to officials closing Imperil beach (pictured) down for half of 2022

The people of Imperial Beach have been battling the raw sewage problem for quite some time. 

The city says the beach area near the pier was closed for around 50 percent of last year and areas further South were closed for 100 percent. 

Congress recently passed two bills that give around $400 million to improve water infrastructure on the US – Mexico border, Local 10 News reports.

Mexico has also pledged $144 million to fix pipes at their water treatment facilities.