A tropical storm Sunday shuttered city services in Coronado and was overwhelming the international wastewater treatment plant at the border with up to 60 million gallons of sewage – more than double capacity – flowing from Mexico, officials said.

The City of Coronado activated its Emergency Operations Center, and community residents were told to check the city’s dedicated Tropical Storm Hilary webpage for storm updates and to look to the city’s social media platforms: FacebookTwitter/X, and Instagram.

Further, all beaches were closed as sewage from Tijuana was overflowing into the international wastewater treatment plant.

The city on Monday will close the library, community center, aquatics center, boathouse, Glorietta Tennis Center, John D. Spreckels Center and Coronado Golf Course and Feast & Fareway because of the storm.

City officials said residents should call 911 for emergencies and downed power lines. For fallen trees, calls can be made to the Coronado Police Department non-emergency number at 619-522-7350.

Sewage from Mexico at 50-60M gallons

Meanwhile, officials at the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission said on Sunday evening that the current flow rate at the treatment plant was 50-60 million gallons, well above the permit and design limit of 25 million gallons a day.

“Due to these excessive flows, the plant’s equalization tanks have filled and are near overflowing.  To avoid any flooding within the plant, wastewater flow will bypass the secondary treatment and flow directly to the South Bay Ocean Outfall. Once flows are reduced, secondary treatment will be restored,” said Morgan Rogers, area operations manager for the plant.

Rogers reported that Mexican pump station PBCILA has shut down for the wet weather flows, and it’s expected that the plant will remain off-line the next few weeks “while the watershed dries out and flows decrease and return to normal dry weather flows.”

Rogers also reported flooding across Monument and Hollister Roads. 

Reservoir updates

Further, he said:

  • At Barrett Lake, reservoir capacity was at 95.5% prior to the storm.  Controlled releases started Saturday and are continuing at 60-70 cubic feet per second or 30 million gallons a day. Water releases have not reached Mexico and have only reached US Highway 94. These controlled releases will continue until after the storm has passed. 
  • Lake Morena: Flows into Barrett Lake are at 23.5% capacity.
  • Rodriguez Reservoir is at 41% capacity. 

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Craig Harris has 31 years of daily journalism experience and is editor and associate publisher. He most recently worked at USA TODAY as a national investigative business reporter, and he’s a two-time Polk Award winner. You can catch him at the Coronado dog beach with his beagle, Daisy, who has her own Twitter account. He can be reached by email or at 602-509-3613.