We found Carolyn Rogerson’s Op-Ed “Where are the Democrats in the Sewage Crisis?” to be divisive and uninformed.
Our community is 100% united and in common cause to find the answers to this increasing threat to the community – the poisonous sewage closing our beaches and sickening our population. In recent years, this alarming influx of toxic sewage spills from our own long-neglected United States-based water treatment plant in San Ysidro has accelerated, leading to public outcry and a series of community support demonstrations at “Stop The Sewage” protest rallies aimed at demanding government action and funding to remedy this menace to our public health.
We strongly oppose any attempts to hijack this into a partisan issue via divisive rhetoric. Our organization, StopTheSewage.org, counts membership in our ranks from the Republican Women of South Bay, the Democratic Clubs of Imperial Beach and Coronado, and everything in between. This is the one genuinely unifying issue our community is in total agreement on – nobody wants toxic sewage polluting their beaches and their air or the threats to our health and those of our children.
Coronado, Imperial Beach in partnership
In a time of extreme partisan rancor at the national level, Coronado and Imperial Beach have come together to fight the poisoning of our 12 miles of shared coastal beauty. Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre, and the city councils of both communities stood together at the latest “Stop The Sewage” rally on Sept. 1.
These elected officials couldn’t be from more contrasting backgrounds or political parties. But everyone who loves this coast and our beaches is united on this. Coronado High School and Mar Vista High School have started “Stop The Sewage” clubs to learn advocacy, science, and how to peacefully petition the government for change. This painful environmental reality will fortify a new generation with the skills to make fundamental changes in the world they inherit. The common good is the unifying factor in bringing our communities together.
We are here to fix the problem, not to fix the blame.
The opinion piece implied our representatives are doing nothing.
Bipartisan bills to solve the problem
Dozens of bills are currently in the legislative pipeline at the state and federal levels. The unanimous request for a State of Emergency for the county of San Diego came from two Republican and two Democratic supervisors. U.S. Rep. Scott Peters and State Assemblyman David Alvarez have worked tirelessly on numerous and significant pieces of legislation and should be praised regardless of party.
Our mayors and local officials are pulling every lever to make this cleanup happen, but neither diplomacy nor lobbying has produced relief to date. The “$350-plus million” number everyone throws around is not new funding; it is the amount previously agreed upon by the EPA in a legal settlement.
It’s a complex problem involving sovereign nations, deferred infrastructure maintenance, climate change effects, and more. But the solution is not complex. We are not landing a rover on Mars. This wastewater treatment is carried out effectively throughout all other coastal cities in the United States and Mexico – except for Tijuana and San Diego, where our government has failed us miserably on both sides of our border. Would this be allowed to continue in the Sacramento River? Or Chesapeake Bay?
Need ‘shovels in the ground’
We need “shovels in the ground” right now, not three years from now—no more broken promises or betrayals. Enough. Emergency measures are needed to mitigate this putrid air and poisonous sewage affecting our communities. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) officials are not magicians. They need catch-up money dispersed today.
That is why we – and every single Republican and Democratic elected official, federal, state, and local mayors, League of California Cities, non-profit coalitions, Cal-EPA, The Port of San Diego, everyone – is calling for a State of Emergency declaration from Gov. Gavin Newsom – to bypass a dysfunctional Congress (poised to shut down our government next week) and provide immediate emergency measures under the Stafford Act to access FEMA funds.
We warmly invite Carol Rogerson to join our efforts to facilitate change for our community. We park our disagreements at the door and roll up our sleeves to save our beloved community.
Newsom’s silence is unconscionable
Newsom’s silence and absence on this issue is unconscionable.
San Diego is the second-largest county in California and the seventh-largest in the United States. State of Emergency requests demand a response, not silent indifference. We invite all Coronado and Imperial Beach citizens to rise up with us and demand that Newsom meet this moment. His number is 916-445-2841 (press 6 for a live person).
We are planning the next StopTheSewage.org beach rally and hope you’ll sign up to join us. We can rescue our communities by working together – and leave a legacy that our children can be proud of.
Stephanie Kaupp/Marely Ramirez/Jean Seager/Susan Marrinan/Laura Wilkinson Sinton are founders of StopTheSewage.org