County To Help Examine Possible Airborne Illnesses From Tj Sewage & Make Data Available

News Date

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer secured the support of her colleagues in passing a policy today to have the County help address possible airborne contamination from the Tijuana Sewage Crisis by expanding data collection, examining health impacts on residents beyond direct water exposure, developing stronger decontamination protocols for sewage-contaminated floodwaters.  

“If we are able to uncover new data that proves aerosolized sewage-associated bacteria is negatively affecting the health of people in San Diego County, this gives us more leverage to go after federal funds to fix the Tijuana Sewage Crisis,” said Supervisor Lawson-Remer, Vice Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “I appreciate the support of my colleagues as we continue the fight to protect beaches, coastlines and open spaces, air quality, and safe clean drinking water.”   

Studies by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography show that sewage-associated bacteria can be aerosolized by the ocean waves, potentially exposing unsuspecting people further inland. The Supervisor’s policy would expand data collection and develop stronger decontamination protocols for sewage-contaminated floodwaters.

Supervisor Lawson-Remer’s policy directs County staff to

  • Launch a first-of-its-kind Community Health Survey examining health impacts beyond direct water exposure

  • Develop a Tijuana River Public Health Risk Dashboard

  • Develop a local decontamination protocols for sewage contaminated floodwaters

  • Collaborate with the Task Force to develop a list of data sources that can support tracking sewage-associated non-reportable diseases.

  • Request zip-code level data from California Breathing Program.

  • Enhance communication with other agencies to increase surveillance and testing under their purview, including San Diego Regional Water Control Board, Air Pollution Control District, CDPH, and CDC.

  • Pursue additional funding and support to assess economic and public health impacts of the sewage crisis.

County staff will report back to the Board quarterly with recommendations for further action to support these initiatives.

Board Chair Nora Vargas agreed to add her signature to the policy. 

Read the entire policy here.