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February 10, 2011

$4.8-Million Loan to Expand Tijuana Sewage

By Sandra Dibble, San Diego Union Tribune.

February 9, 2011 

San Diego Union Tribune.

By Sandra Dibble

TIJUANA — A $4.8-million loan approved this week by the North American Development Bank is expected to significantly increase sewage treatment in the city’s under-served southern and eastern neighborhoods.

The funds will permit the completion of the Tecolote-La Gloria treatment plant that is currently under construction in southwestern Tijuana and thus eliminate the discharge of raw sewage into a creek that flows to the Pacific Ocean.

The facility is expected to begin operating in August with an initial treatment capacity of about two million gallons daily, said Hernando Durán, head of the Baja California public service commission’s division for Tijuana and Rosarito Beach.

The funds also will be used to bring automation to the La Morita plant in eastern Tijuana that began operating last year in the Tijuana River watershed. The plant’s eventual treatment capacity will be about 5.8 million gallons daily.

The financing was announced Tuesday in Tijuana during a meeting of the North American Development Bank and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, binational agencies that finance and certify projects on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The two plants “fill important gaps in the coverage that would not exist otherwise, so we definitely see them as important steps forward,” said Doug Eberhardt, chief of the infrasctructure office for the western region of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has for years worked closely with Baja California to increase sewage collection in the region.

Once the new infrastructure is in operation, all of the sewage that is collected in the Tijuana and Rosarito Beach region will be treated, Durán said. The state’s next challenge will be expanding collection capacity in Tijuana, where 97 percent of sewage is collected, and Rosarito Beach, where the figure is 90 percent, he said.

Despite its challenges, Tijuana some has the highest waster water treatment and collection rates in Mexico, said Juan Antonio Flores, a bank spokesman. “When you look at the rest of Mexico and the rest of the border, Tijuana is substantially ahead of the game.”

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