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March 29, 2011

What is the Tijuana River Plume?

Tijuana River
Image by Deniz Ozakcay

A plume is considered a moving, rising, or expanding fluid body of water released from a single source that often spreads in the environment due to action of wind, currents or swell direction.


Every year when it rains the Tijuana River can flow up to billions of gallons in one day. Laced with cross-border sewage, the Tijuana River enters the Pacific Ocean just south of Imperial Beach. All this waste water flowing into the ocean causes a stain, an effluent referred to as the plume. Hence the Tijuana River plume is the undiluted waste water entering the ocean.



To view real time monitoring of the Tijuana River plume visit:

A visual assessment  of this plume is one of many tools utilized by the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health supported by Imperial Beach lifeguards to determine if a beach closure should be placed in effect or lifted.

Deniz Ozakcay recently shot some pictures of the Tijuana River Mouth and the Plume via small aircraft. Here are some of his amazing pictures:

For more information on how you can get involved in the Border Clean Water Campaign and our many efforts to reduce ocean pollution contact Paloma at