There's a poop crisis at the border

A small Southern California town is dealing with contaminated water flowing from the Tijuana River.
March 8, 2019, 3:30pm

While the federal government obsesses over the so-called emergency at the border, a small California town is dealing with a Mexico-related crisis that has nothing to do with migrants. It's all about water — very dirty water.

”I'm starting to smell it,” Baron Partlow yelled into the estuary that sits between Tijuana and Imperial Beach, a small coastal town in Southern California. He was wearing a black shirt bearing the words ”Stop the Poop“ in large white letters, high boots, and plastic gloves, and carrying a respirator.

Partlow documents the wastewater that flows from Mexico to the United States and then posts the videos to the Stop the Poop page on Facebook, as part of a growing local movement to clean up the Tijuana River.

Every year, the river carries millions of gallons of water over the border, bringing trash, chemicals, and poop along for the ride. The problem has gotten so bad that the beaches just north of Mexico are rarely ever open. What everyone wants is simple: actual sewage infrastructure, but it’ll take billions of dollars to fix.

“We don't need a wall,” Serge Dedina, the mayor of Imperial Beach, told VICE News. “For $5.7 billion, are you kidding? We could fix every problem on the border.”

VICE News traveled to Imperial Beach, where there's regular town halls addressing the stinky problem, to see how bad it could possibly be.

This segment originally aired February 28, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.