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August 04, 2010

Bad smell worries surfers in Imperial Beach

Director of Conservation, Ben McCue was interviewed by San Diego's Channel 8 news

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (CBS 8) - Surfers in Imperial Beach say there's something in the water, and it stinks.

Efforts are underway to raise the money for tests to figure out what's causing the bad smell.

"It hits you physically, like there's something bad in the water," Ben McCue of Wildcoast said.

And the complaints have nothing to do with the size of waves, but rather what's riding in with them.

"It's almost like a chemical smell. You come out of the water and your eyes are burning," a surfer said.

The stink has come and gone over the years, but test after test by the city and state has come up with no positive results.

"We get the test results back and it says the opposite, saying the water is fine to be in," McCue said.

McCue is with the non-profit environmental group Wildcoast and he says he and others here want answers.

"Right now we don't know how worrisome of an event this should be," Dave Gibson of the Regional Control Board said.


Gibson says that's because the event isn't a year round thing. And because it appears to come and go with the swells, it's making the task of pinpointing more difficult.

Gibson says they're looking at the South Bay International Wasterwater Plant's discharge and a plant in Mexico.

"Only about 12 to 16 percent of the time will a plume from Punta Bandarus actually reach the IB waters offshore," Gibson said.

That could account for the inconsistent reports. Either way, those who live there want answers as to whether or not it's safe to be in the water.

"I think they're going to find everything they're looking for and more," a surfer said.

Some believe the source could be the South Bay Ocean Outfall about three miles off the coast. It's where treated sewage is poured into the ocean at about 90 feet below the surface.

The state says they're trying to find funding to do tests to look for things like caffeine, Motrin, and other chemicals that don't disappear from human waste and aren't eliminated in the sewage treatment process. If they can get positive test results to those specific chemicals they will be able to confirm if the issue is from the wastewater. The cost for the tests will run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

In the meantime the international wasterwater treatment plant in San Ysidro is almost complete with upgrades that will help capture and treat sewage leaks from Mexican treatment plants along the Tijuana River.

If you are citing a television program (the date is the broadcast date):
"The Phantom of Corleone." Narr. Steve Kroft. Sixty Minutes. CBS. WCBS, New York, 10 Dec. 2006. Television.

"Bad smell worries surfers in Imperial Beach." Craig McKee, CBS8, San Diego CA, Posted: Jul 29, 2010 6:51 PM. Television.