The South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant near the U.S-Mexico border is stabilizing, and transboundary flows of sewage water down the Tijuana River are decreasing, as the storm has passed, the agency reported Monday morning.
Flows into the plant are down to 20 million gallons per day and below the plant’s design and permit limit of 25 million gallons per day, according to Morgan Rogers, the area operations manager.
Rogers said wastewater flows bypassed the secondary treatment and flowed directly to South Bay Ocean Outfall at 5 p.m. on Sunday to reduce the risk of flooding in the plant.
Meanwhile, the city of Coronado announced that beaches were open Monday, but the ocean water is closed because of contamination from the sewage outflow.
In addition, the Coronado Golf Course was closed Monday in order for city crews to focus on cleanup efforts.
Tropical Storm Hillary drenches SoCal
The announcements Monday came as Tropical Storm Hilary drenched Southern California from the coast to the desert resort city of Palm Springs, forcing rescuers to pull several people from swollen rivers, before heading east and flooding a county about 40 miles (64 kilometers) outside of Las Vegas.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami downgraded Hilary to a post-tropical storm Monday morning, but warned that “continued life-threatening and locally catastrophic flooding” was expected over portions of the southwestern U.S., along with “record breaking” rainfall and potential flooding in states as far north as Oregon and Idaho.
Remnants of the storm that first brought soaking rains to Mexico’s arid Baja California Peninsula and the border city of Tijuana were expected to linger at least through Tuesday morning.
Southern Californians were battling flooded roads, mudslides and downed trees. Winding roads in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles were blocked by mud and debris flows. A stretch of the I-10 freeway near Palm Springs was also shut to traffic due to pooling water from the storm.
Stretch of Pacific Coast Highway flooded
Along the coast, a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway in surf-friendly Huntington Beach was also flooded.
“Thank God my family is OK,” Maura Taura said after a three-story-tall tree crashed down on her daughter’s two cars but missed the family’s house in the Sun Valley area of Los Angeles.
Hilary is just the latest major weather or climate disaster to wreak havoc across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Hawaii’s island of Maui is still reeling from a blaze that killed more than 100 people and ravaged the historic town of Lahaina, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century. Firefighters in Canada are battling that nation’s worst fire season on record.
The first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, Hilary first made landfall in Baja California on Sunday in a sparsely populated area about 150 miles (250 kilometers) south of Ensenada. One person drowned. It then moved through mudslide-prone Tijuana, threatening the improvised homes that cling to hillsides just south of the U.S. border.
Hilary dropped more than half an average year’s worth of rain on some areas, including Palm Springs, which saw more than 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain by Sunday evening.
Fire officials rescue 13 people
Forecasters warned of dangerous flash floods across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, and fire officials rescued 13 people from knee-deep water in a homeless encampment along the rising San Diego River. Meanwhile, rain and debris washed out some roadways and people left their cars stranded in standing water. Crews pumped floodwaters out of the emergency room at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.
Sunday was the wettest day on record in San Diego, with 1.82 inches (4.6 centimeters), the NWS said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. The previous record was on Aug. 17, 1977, when 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) of rain fell in the area post-Hurricane Doreen.
“We basically blew all of our previous rainfall records out of the water,” National Weather Service meteorologist Elizabeth Adams in San Diego told The Associated Press. In Palm Springs, the inundation shattered the daily record of 0.21 inches set in 2003 with 3.18 inches falling Sunday.
Storm churns near Haiti
In the Caribbean, meanwhile, Tropical Storm Franklin churned on Monday near Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where authorities warned residents to prepare for floods and landslides. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are also watching a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that now has an 80% chance of developing into a tropical disturbance or tropical storm before reaching the western Gulf coastline on Tuesday. Forecasters urged people along the coast in northern Mexico and Texas to monitor the system, adding that tropical storm watches or warnings may be issued later Monday.