Flow to river channel to drop; irrigation uses seen

Published 09 October 08 04:29 PM



September 26, 2008  

TIJUANA – It sits on a hillside miles from San Diego, rising above tightly packed colonias in Tijuana's fast-growing eastern end. Despite its distance from the border, the new Monte de Los Olivos sewage treatment plant has been drawing applause in California.

Expected to begin operation within a month, the $9 million plant will at full capacity treat the waste of some 265,000 residents to a tertiary level, clean enough for irrigation. Together with a smaller but similar plant, La Morita, set to open this year, Monte de Los Olivos will dramatically decrease the flow of untreated sewage down the Tijuana River channel that leads to the border.

The operation of the two plants also will relieve Tijuana's main sewage treatment plant, the over-burdened Punta Bandera facility south of Playas de Tijuana. By the middle of next year, officials hope the operation of the new plants will largely eliminate the coastal discharges of untreated sewage at Punta Bandera.

“This project puts Baja California at the vanguard of sewage treatment in Mexico,” Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán told a crowd of more than 300 gathered for yesterday's inauguration ceremony at Monte de los Olivos.

The plant's opening marks the first step in an ambitious state-led reclamation project for Tijuana that will take years to develop. The city's 1.4 million residents look to piped-in water from the Colorado River to meet more than 90 percent of their water needs, and the state has been hard-pressed to expand the region's supply.

By using treated water for irrigation and industry, the state hopes to save the Colorado River water for residential and commercial purposes. But before they can proceed, they need to build a network of pipes to deliver the reclaimed water, and find enough users.

No one disputes that the plants at Monte de los Olivos and La Morita, which will treat sewage in the Tijuana River watershed, represent a major step forward for the city. Financing for the two plants, along with a third scheduled to open next year in southern Tijuana, is through a low-interest loan from the Japanese government and Mexico's federal government. The builder is a Mexico City-based company named Fypasa.

Initially, only 10 percent of Monte de los Olivos' output capacity will be used for reclamation, said Hernando Duran, head of the state public service commission in Tijuana, known as CESPT. The state is setting up a system that will pipe any of the unused treated effluent for discharge into the Pacific Ocean south of Punta Bandera.

“While the system is designed, it's not fully ready,” Romo said. “Overall, it's a very good sign, but people should not expect results by tomorrow.”

Within four years, Duran said the hope is to be using at least three-fourths of Monte de los Olivos' capacity in reclamation projects. Beyond that, the state is also studying the possibility of piping some of the reclaimed water to a point above Tijuana's RodrNguez Dam, allowing it to filter through into the reservoir.

“They deserve a huge amount of credit for what they've done,” said Bart Christensen, senior engineer with California's State Water Resources Control Board, and his agency's border coordinator. “They have the same goals as San Diego, but they don't have the resources San Diego has. They have to be really creative to get their infrastructure implemented in Tijuana. This really demonstrates Mexico's commitment to addressing their own waste water infrastructure needs.”

Despite progress, Tijuana's sewage flow continues to exceed the city's treatment capacity. Cross-border sewage spills have for decades been a contentious issue, as incidents in the Tijuana River basin are likely to be felt across the border in the Tijuana River estuary in Imperial Beach. Though dry weather flows have largely been eliminated, cross-border sewage flows during wet weather continue to shut down South Bay beaches.

Monte de los Olivos “is a critical facility that's necessary to meet Tijuana's waste water treatment needs today and in the future,” said Su Cox, an environmental engineer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has been working closely with CESPT on a plan to connect an additional 34,000 residents in eastern Tijuana to the sewer system.

“The thing that's great about this is that it addresses environmental health and public health needs on both sides of the border.”


Cost: The $9 million Monte de los Olivos plant will treat sewage from about 265,000 residents in eastern Tijuana.

Irrigation: The plant launches a major reuse project for Tijuana, and officials are installing pipes to distribute the water to green areas. Most of the flow will initially be discharged into the ocean.

Coastal discharge: The plant provides relief for the overburdened coastal Punta Bandera plant. Together with future La Morita plant and new sewage collection projects, the coastal discharge of untreated sewage from the Punta Bandera plant is near an end.

Cross-border: Cross-border sewage flows in wet weather will continue, but the concentration of sewage in those flows is expected to decrease.

Other projects: A third sewage treatment plant in southern Tijuana, a desalination plant in Ensenada that will produce 5.7 million gallons of water a day, and expansion of the Colorado River aqueduct.



# Flow to river channel to drop; irrigation uses seen | Mazatlan Mexico, Travel, Real Estate, Hotels, Resorts, Culture & Leisure, Tours & Activities Weblog said on January 14, 2009 8:38 AM:

PingBack from http://www.mazatlanweblog.com/blog/flow-to-river-channel-to-drop-irrigation-uses-seen/

Anonymous comments are disabled

This Blog