Category Archives: Geek/GangGreen/Tec

Desalination Water Cost Unknown

Bajadock: Yes, translation is always fuzzy, but this is baffling.  880,000,000mnp = approx 45 million US Dollars to build the desal plant.  Now that it is completed, we don’t know how much the water will cost.  But, we’re not going to charge more for it.  ???


By Gerardo Sánchez Ensenada, Baja California, July 17.- Although it was officially opened a month ago, it is unknown how much it cost and what will be the rates for the seawater desalination plant, assured the director of the State Water Commission (CEA), Ricardo Cisneros Rodríguez. The state official could not explain precisely why the Development Bank of North America (Bandan) said that the plant cost 987 million pesos, and both the CEA and the National Water Commission, announced that the cost of that work was of 880 million pesos. Questioned about the discrepancies in these figures after participating as an exhibitor at the weekly meeting of the Enshower Group of Ensenada, Cisneros Rodriguez said: “It is a VAT issue, we handle an amount without that tax and the Bandan does, and also updated its costs with the mechanisms provided in the contract according to the consumer price indexes to update the amount, we have not done it, we are waiting for the financial closure, which is where the adjustment mechanisms are applied “. However, the figure publicly managed by the CEA and Conagua, if added VAT does not coincide with that reported by the bank, because the 880 million pesos with 16 percent of the Value Added Tax would add a total of one thousand 20 million pesos, that is, there would be a difference of 33 million pesos with that managed by the Development Bank of North America. Cisneros Rodríguez also did not accurately report the cost of the tariffs at which the desalinated water will be sold to the State Government and said that this will be defined until the financial review of the work is completed. However, he assured that no increase in water rates is contemplated for the industrial, commercial or domestic user of the city of Ensenada.


Frig Wars 3

by staff appliance repair editor, Maynard Maytag 

This is a real photo of my frig.  The view is of the coil that has frozen over because of a faulty fan not circulating air.  It is odd that more frost here actually creates a warm frig chamber, while the freezer section cools properly.

Had the same issue last summer and was fortunate to find a technician who knew how to fix it quickly.  That tech warned me that he was installing a used fan and that it would work for short term.  I should buy a new one asap was his advisory

This is the little guy(approx 4″ x 4″) that fits in the space just above the iced coil(see 3 black rubber pegs).  Ordered it last July.

Have been traveling a lot recently, but, noticed my frig temp warming slightly 2 weeks ago.  Upon return from my trip frig temp was all the way up to 48F.

Great news is that I had served my frig repair apprenticeship last summer.  Boiling water and a hair dryer are key tools for this fix.

Had to figger out a way to rig in the new fan as it did not come with the black rubber connectors.  Pipe cleaners, used for wine glass personal markers, are always a handy household tool and were perfect for attaching the little fan in its tight compartment.

Brimming with machismo I plugged the fan into its wiring socket and…hmmmm.  No hum, no whirling blade, nada!  After 90 minutes of work defrosting and my ez fix is not working?

After a few deep breaths, I plugged in the old fan.  Nada!  WTF?  Did I detach or crush a wire during my ice crushing?

Patience is an amazing thing.  It took the frig a couple of minutes to cycle and the whirring fan blades were a happy sight.

What a great excuse this was to clean my frig shelves and drawers.  But, it did ruin a hair dryer.

One of the most frustrating little details of my frig is reinstalling the two veg/fruit drawers.  What a mouse trap contraption to assemble.

Thrilled to see my interior thermometer read 45F after a few minutes and settling down to 40F after about a half hour.


Tijuana to Wine Valley Waste Water Aqueduct

Bajadock: We reported on this proposed aqueduct last week.  In that report, we also published an article from 2010 about getting the aqueduct out for bid “soon”.  BTW, what is it about Mexican journalism/culture that almost always prefers to publish a photo of the politicians discussing the project at the press conference over the actual project at hand? If a bomb explosion occurred at the San Ysidro border crossing, rather than a photo of the damage, they would have a photo of officials at a press conference.

I added(as I often do) the above map for those wondering what the deal is all about. Here is the photo attached to the waste water aqueduct article.  The boys have that “when do we get out of here?” look as Baja Governor Kiko speaks.


The governor, Francisco Vega de Lamadrid, confirmed the construction of the aqueduct that will bring treated water from Tijuana to the Guadalupe Valley, which will triple the surface of vineyards and guarantee tourist activities in the most visited region of Baja California.

The state governor indicated that the work has an estimated cost of one thousand 500 million pesos, will be made with resources from the private initiative and has already begun the bidding process of the work.

He pointed out that to guarantee the clarity and legality of this project, the civil organization Transparencia Mexicana was invited to supervise the bidding and construction of the system that will bring the treated water from the La Morita plant from the city of Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe.

This aqueduct, said Vega de Lamadrid, will have a capacity of up to 1,000 liters per second and the projected cost will be just over 10 pesos per cubic meter, a price that was already accepted by the winemakers who will use those waters.

The governor of Baja California said tentatively the work could be completed in 2019, and of the nearly three thousand hectares of vineyards that are currently had could exceed ten thousand hectares to be provided with this water resource.

He added that parallel to the construction of said aqueduct, the XXII Ayuntamiento de Ensenada works in the Sectoral Program of Ordenamiento del Valle de Guadalupe, which will allow for an orderly growth of urban growth and services in the region.

Regarding the quality of the water that will be brought to the wine region, the Secretary of Agricultural Development of the State, Manuel Valladolid Seamanduras, indicated that the project and tender for the aqueduct was made with the aim of guaranteeing and even exceeding the highest quality standards in treated water.

According to a report from the State Public Services Commission of Tijuana, during the last three years, experimental vineyard cultivations were carried out using these waters.

These works were supervised by the winemaker Camilo Magoni, the State Water Commission, the Technological Institute of Tijuana and the Center for Research and Development in Electrochemistry of Conacyt.

The Cespet informed that the tests done on water, soils and grapes were satisfactory when they were met and were at levels above the technical standards established in the management of this type of water resource.

Baja California Drought Continues


Due to the persistence of dry weather in Baja California, the growth and emergence of extreme drought was observed according to the Conagua report as of March 31st.

It adds that Baja California presented its driest fifth quarter (January-March 2018) since 1941, that is to say in 77 years according to the Drought Monitor disseminated by the National Water Commission. Baja California showed a strong advance in the area affected by drought, the second largest since 2014. The affected area reaches 80.5% of the territory with 22% in the ranges of severe drought and extreme drought.

With respect to the same period of 2016, the difference is worrisome. According to a report from the Economic Studies Center of Baja California, the absence of rain and the announcement that this will be a very hot year puts the problem of water in the State back on the agenda. He recalled that just last February the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 have been the warmest ever recorded and that last year the average temperature on the Earth’s surface exceeded by 1.1ºC the temperature of the preindustrial.

Although 2016 remains at the top of the list of warmest years, 2017 is the first warmer without the El Niño effect. The intense episode of El Niño 2015/2016 contributed to record unprecedented temperatures in 2016. The global average temperature in 2017 was approximately 0.46 ° C higher than the long-term average of the period 1981-2010 (14.3 ° C), highlights WMO, adding that temperatures only account for a small part of history.

Parallel to the warm temperatures of 2017 extreme weather events occurred in many countries of the world. The United States had to face the most expensive year in terms of meteorological and climatic disasters, while in other countries slower economic development was observed, and even a setback, as a consequence of tropical cyclones, floods and droughts.

For this year, the global average temperature would be between 0.88ºC and 1.12ºC above pre-industrial conditions (average temperature for the period between 1850 and 1900), according to the National Meteorological Service of the United Kingdom (Met Office). . If this forecast is fulfilled, 2018 will be the fourth warmest year since 1850. In this context, Baja California must already work on actions to cushion the impact of this year, since important regions such as the Wine Route have already been affected for several years, concludes the CEEBC report.

Tijuana Waste Water to Wine Valley?

Roberto Ramírez de la Parra, Mexico’s top water official, at right, gets an update on projects in the Tijuana River watershed during a visit to Tijuana. (Sandra Dibble/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Bajadock: included a 2010 article on the same project below this week’s waste water plan.  The 2010 article ends with “a second project to use the rest of Tijuana’s treated wastewater” before the first one is financed and built.  But, this week’s article includes fingers, very determined fingers, pointing on a colored map.  Is that a compost pile behind the police tape?  Aha, here is another view from the “top water official” facebook page:

SDUT   10 Apr 2018

A plan to pipe treated wastewater from Tijuana to the Guadalupe Valley is being championed by authorities who say the project not only would support the state’s wine-growing region, but also solve another problem: reducing the flow to the overburdened San Antonio de los Buenos coastal sewage treatment plant.

The vision revolves around the treated effluent from Tijuana’s La Morita and Arturo Herrera plants that currently flows down the Tijuana River channel. “The idea is that we take the water that we are treating here in Tijuana and send it to the Guadalupe Valley,” said Roberto Ramírez de la Parra, Mexico’s top water official, during a visit to Tijuana last week.

State authorities have said a private company would build the aqueduct, but have not offered details. The project would help guarantee the water supply to the Guadalupe Valley, which produces close to 90 percent of Mexico’s wines.

Ramírez de la Parra, who heads Mexico’s National Water Commission, said the aqueduct project would eliminate discharges from the plants into the Tijuana River channel. The water runs downstream toward the U.S. border and picks up contaminants on the way. It then must be pumped toward the San Antonio de los Buenos treatment plant about six miles from the border.

The plan to send the water to the Guadalupe Valley has been gaining support in Mexico as part of a larger strategy aimed at reducing contaminated cross-border flows in the Tijuana River watershed. It would also decrease the San Antonio de los Buenos plant’s discharge into the Pacific Ocean, which environmentalists say is often polluted.

Ramírez de la Parra said authorities are also planning in the short-term some upgrades to the 31-year-old San Antonio de los Buenos plant. “We are going to start the rehabilitation right now,” said de la Parra. They are postponing a more costly plan to expand the plant’s capacity and build a new activated sludge water treatment facility.

Ramírez de la Parra said the idea is to “rehabilitate it, so that it functions well, but we won’t build a new facility, until we have a pipeline that would take the water to the Guadalupe Valley.”


SDUT Feb 2010

As they watch millions of gallons of treated Tijuana wastewater flow into the Pacific Ocean each day, Baja California authorities say they have a better idea: Why not pipe it to the Guadalupe Valley, Baja California’s winemaking region, where the water table has been falling even as the area has risen in international renown?

Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán’s government is proposing a 46-mile aqueduct that would carry the treated water from eastern Tijuana to the vineyards and olive groves in the small agricultural valley north of Ensenada.

“If we wanted to use all the treated water in the city, we’d be hard-pressed to find places to put it, no matter how many green areas we had,” said Efraín Muñoz, head of the State Water Commission, Baja California’s water planning agency.

Miles from Tijuana’s crowded hillsides, winemakers in the picturesque Guadalupe Valley say they’re running out of water, and that is threatening the future of a region responsible for 90 percent of Mexico’s wine production.

The valley shares its wells with the city of Ensenada, and the growing demand for urban and agricultural uses has put unprecedented pressure on the aquifer.

The Guadalupe Valley would not be the first to use reclaimed water in its vineyards. Napa Valley has been using treated wastewater in some vineyards for at least a decade, said Jeff Tucker of the Napa Sanitation District.

Hugo D’Acosta, owner of the Casa de Piedra winery and a member of the Baja California Wine Growers Association, offers cautious endorsement for the pipeline proposal.

The reclaimed-water project could offer a solution, he said, “if and when it’s well-executed and meets the needs of the valley.”

D’Acosta and other vineyard owners have become increasingly wary of encroachment by housing developments and fear that without strict zoning regulations, the pipeline could encourage large-scale projects that destroy the valley’s vocation.

“I see it as feasible, but also very dangerous,” D’Acosta said of the proposed aqueduct.

This is not the first proposal aimed at using Tijuana’s wastewater. A U.S. company, Bajagua, for years proposed building a treatment plant in Mexico with $170 million in U.S. government funds, then selling up to 59 million gallons of reclaimed water a day. But the San Marcos company’s much-debated proposal failed in 2008 when the International Boundary and Water Commission opted to instead upgrade its existing San Ysidro treatment plant that treats 25 million gallons of Tijuana sewage a day.

Collecting and treating Tijuana’s sewage has been the subject of binational efforts for decades. The city’s spills and overflows risk contaminating San Diego County beaches and threaten the Tijuana River estuary, a federally protected wetland. Although dry-weather flows have largely been eliminated, cross-border sewage flows during wet weather continue to shut down South Bay beaches.

Last year, officials on both sides of the border celebrated when Tijuana’s state-operated utility, the CESPT, inaugurated the Arturo Herrera sewage treatment plant in eastern Tijuana.

The opening launched Tijuana’s first comprehensive wastewater-reuse program, and the inauguration of a pipeline carrying 470,000 gallons a day from the plant to nearby Morelos Park.

The CESPT is completing a second treatment plant nearby called La Morita, and is planning a third one, Cueros de Venado. The three plants would feed the Guadalupe Valley aqueduct up to 25 million gallons a day of wastewater treated to a secondary level, which is acceptable for irrigation purposes.

Muñoz, the Baja California water planner, said the Guadalupe Valley pipeline proposal has a good chance of becoming a reality, but it faces several hurdles.

Because the state government can’t afford the project’s $169 million price tag, it is turning to the private sector. The winning bidder would recover its investment by selling the water. But to keep water rates down, federal funds are also needed, Muñoz said.

The state hopes to put to the project out to bid this year and begin construction in 2011, Muñoz said.

Before reaching the Guadalupe Valley, some of the water would be diverted to the Valle de las Palmas outside Tijuana, where a satellite city is under construction. Additional amounts would be delivered to agricultural communities along the way, with the remainder stored at a reservoir planned at the valley’s northern end, Muñoz said.

The water would receive further treatment before being delivered to growers, allowing it to be used in spray and drip irrigation systems.

Even with the Guadalupe Valley pipeline in the planning stages, Muñoz is looking ahead to a second project to use the rest of Tijuana’s treated wastewater.

He envisions a coastline pipeline that would supply communities with irrigation water for their green spaces.

“It would be much cheaper than the drinking water we are now using,” Muñoz said.

Tijuana Sewage Spills


There was not a cloud in sight on this winter morning as surfers rode the waves south of the U.S. border fence, off of Playas de Tijuana. Anna Lucía López Avedoy stood on the street above, focusing instead on the stream pouring from a storm drain, splashing down a small rocky cliff, trickling down the sand and finally into the Pacific Ocean.

“This is not rain water, this is not water that should be running through a storm drain,” said López, a former Tijuana lifeguard who teaches a class in ecology to tourism students at Tijuana’s largest public university, the Autonomous University of Baja California. “I think it’s time we highlight the situation.

While spills from Tijuana’s aging, underfunded and overloaded sewage collection and treatment system have prompted protests across the border in San Diego County, nearby Tijuana beaches also suffer contamination when lines break, pumps fail, and rainstorms sweep the region.

The issue has been flaring up again, despite hundreds of millions of dollars invested to build new treatment plants in Tijuana and connect more neighborhoods. Six miles down the coast from the border fence, the city’s largest sewage treatment plant, now three decades old, failing and stretched beyond capacity, has been long overdue for replacement. Across the city, collector pipes are in danger of collapse. A dozen developments on the coastline — and others that are inland — need to be connected to the public system.

“Tijuana is a complex city, and it has a sanitary system that has never kept pace with the increase in population,” said Roberto Espinosa, the longtime head of the Tijuana office of the Mexican section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, known as CILA.

The issue touches on topography, engineering, poverty, rapid population growth lack of planning, and lack of government transparency. It involves sewage collection and treatment, but also the control of sediment and trash that can clog canyons and storm drains. Many say it is a solvable problem but the solution depends on resources — and political will on both sides of the border to collaborate on a solution. A will that critics say has fallen short.

“Everybody’s in their corner, with their bit of information,” said Margarita Diaz, director of the Playas de Tijuana-based environmental group, Proyecto Fronterizo de Educacion Ambiental. “I think nobody has the ability to say, here it is, the complete picture.”

The continuing issue of cross-border contamination also lays bare the economic differences between United States and Mexico, and different systems for financing public infrastructure.

Mexican states and municipalities are heavily reliant on the federal government and “there are needs throughout Mexico so it’s difficult to get large amounts of money from Mexico to resolve the problem,” said Paul Ganster, a San Diego State University professor and head of the Good Neighbor Environmental Board.

With limited funds, Mexican authorities say they are moving forward, sometimes with U.S. assistance, on key infrastructure projects they say will go far to alleviate the problem of cross-border flows to San Diego: upgrades to a pump station that diverts dry-weather flows in the Tijuana River channel away from San Diego; replacing damaged sewage collector pipes, including a 2.7-mile stretch of a giant sewage conveyor pipe known as Colector Poniente; and acquiring new pumps and other equipment to respond faster when breaks occur.

“The commitment is that there are no spills of sewage-contaminated water in the Tijuana River watershed,” said Miguel Lemus, who recenty took leave from his job as director of CESPT , the acronym for the state water utility in Tijuana. “And to guarantee this, we are taking a number of actions.”

Water quality a touchy subject

“Es un tema escalabroso,” said López, as she drove down the Baja California’s coastal toll road south of Playas de Tijuana, stopping briefly at the murky, churning stream of discharge from the Punta Bandera water treatment plant. “It’s a thorny subject.”

How contaminated is the flow, and what is the effect on nearby beaches? It’s hard for a member of the public to know.

Tijuana’s municipal lifeguards, who oversee beaches south of the border fence, have been ordered not to publicly discuss the issue of beach contamination. Beach closures are extremely rare, and timely official results of water testing are not available.

Monitoring of ocean water quality does take place in Mexico but the results are often not publicly posted or delayed so as to be of little use to swimmers and surfers. The federal agency Cofepris, charged with monitoring the water quality of the country’s beaches, has not posted any results for Tijuana and Rosarito Beach since last November.

The CESPT monitors five sites on the Tijuana shoreline on a weekly basis, but it has yet to publish results for this month.

“There is no culture of public commitment as far as complying with the role of prevention,” said Adriana Alvarez, Andrade, a professor at the Autonomous University of Baja California who has studied coastal contamination. “Nobody wants to get in trouble. Many times, the policy is to hide the problem.”

Stepping into the void, the nonprofit Proyecto Fronterizo de Educacion Ambiental has been conducting its own regular monitoring of water quality at five points along the Tijuana shoreline since 2014, posting the results through the Swim Guide app.

Of 36 samples taken last year, one location stands out: the beach at Playa Blanca, located less than two miles south of the discharge stream of the San Antonio de los Buenos plant. More than half the samples at Playa Blanca showed bacterial levels that exceeded Mexico’s minimum federal standards.

Decades of problems

Tijuana’s sewage collection and treatment rate of about 90 percent is one of the highest in Mexico, and well above the national average of 50 percent, according to the U.S. EPA. With the aim of reducing contamination downstream in the United States, the agency has been collaborating with Mexico to improve wastewater collection and treatment in projects in Tijuana since 1990.

That same year, the U.S. and Mexico signed an agreement known as Minute 283, which included the provision that “the government of Mexico will assure that there are no discharges of untreated domestic or industrial wastewaters into waters of the Tijuana River that cross the international boundary…”

It has proven to be a daunting challenge.

Tijuana’s many canyons and hillsides drain toward the international border, and when it rains, the infrastructure can do little to to stem the large volumes of polluted runoff flowing down the river channel and into the United States. But even without rain, equipment failures or broken lines in Tijuana regularly lead to cross-border spills.

For residents of Imperial Beach, that has meant frequent beach closures. Last year, contamination from the Tijuana River led the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health to close the Tijuana Slough shoreline at the river’s mouth for 167 days. During the same period, it ordered closures up the coast of Imperial Beach for 64 days; the Silver Strand shoreline for 26 days, and the Coronado shoreline for 11 days.

Efforts to minimize the volume of sewage-contaminated runoff that crosses into the United States go back decades and have involved much cross-border collaboration. In the mid-1960s, the city of San Diego built an emergency connection pipe to carry up to 13 million gallons a day of Tijuana sewage for treatment in Point Loma.

The inauguration in 1987 of the San Antonio de los Buenos plant, funded by the Mexican government, was an important turning point for the city— an oxygenation pond facility capable of eventually treating up to 25 million gallons of sewage per day. But even as authorities from both sides of the border celebrated its opening, Judith E. Ayres, then the regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, made a prescient remark: “The faster Tijuana grows, the quicker this plant will be rendered inadequate.”

A decade later, a second treatment plant for Tijuana sewage was built across the border in San Ysidro with more than $239 million from the EPA, as well as a contribution from the Mexican government. Operated by the International Boundary and Water Commission, the International Wastewater Treatment Plant treats 25 million gallons of Tijuana wastewater daily to U.S. Clean Water Act standards for discharge into the Pacific Ocean through the South Bay Ocean Outfall.

Other pieces of infrastructure have been crucial to reducing contaminated dry-weather flows across the border. Since 1991, a small pump station by the border known as PB CILA has prevented flows in the Tijuana River from crossing into the United States; but the pump can only operate in dry weather and has recently been subject to repeated breakdowns.

Farther west, on the U.S. side of the border, the International Boundary and Water Commission operates a series of collectors that catch dry-weather runoff from five canyons and pump it to the International Wastewater Treatment Plant.

But critics north of the border say efforts have fallen far short. Among those raising their voice shave been members of the U.S. Border Patrol, who says the contamination that reaches the U.S. side is hazardous to the health of agents assigned to patrol the Tijuana River Valley.

“It’s very clear to me that the CESPT and the governor of Baja California…have no interest in fixing this problem, because they’d have to recognize there’s a problem,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, and head of the environmental group Wildcoast. “It’s very clear that the infrastructure on the border is not adequate to contain what’s coming across the border.”

Legal pressure for action mounts

Earlier this month, Imperial Beach joined Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, saying it had repeatedly failed to take measures to address pollution in the Tijuana River Valley. The binational agency, known as IBWC on the U.S. side and CILA in Mexico, is charged with resolving water and boundary disputes on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In recent days, the state of California has been stepping up pressure as well. The San Diego Regional Quality Control Board, a state agency, has issued a draft order requiring the IBWC to produce a water and sediment quality monitoring plan for the Tijuana River. On Monday, board members agreed to issue a 60-day notice of their intent to sue the U.S. IBWC for violations of the Clean Water Act.

David Gibson, executive officer of California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board in San Diego, remembers the days in the 1980s and early 1990s, when “the Tijuana River was nothing but sewage, and it was untreated sewage at about 14 to 18 million gallons a day, rain or shine. It was chunky, raw sewage, you could see the paper, the debris in it.”

Conditions have since improved. “What used to be an everyday event in the river has become more episodic,” said Gibson, though he said in recent years “the numbers of spills and events from the Tijuana River have increased.”

But Gibson said on another front, there has been no improvement: “Has the situation gotten better over 30 years in terms of storm water runoff? Absolutely not.”

In Baja California, the government has identified close to $330 million of upgrades, repairs and new projects that would reduce renegade flows, expand waste water treatment, and recycle the treated effluent rather than discharging it into the Tijuana River channel. But most of these projects remain unfunded.

At a recent breakfast recent meeting in Rosarito Beach, the top federal water official in Baja California outlined the challenges of keeping up with wastewater infrastructure for one of Mexico’s most dynamic regions.

“These actions that are being taken are those that can bring immediate solutions to the greatest number of issues,” Alejandro Cervantes of Mexico’s National Water Commission said as he outlined efforts on various fronts.

But as the population grows and “infrastructure is reaching its life span,” he added, “the issue requires much greater investment.”

The road ahead

Of all the issues that face the Tijuana-San Diego region, perhaps none binds the two cities more intimately than the flow of water. On both sides of the border, some longtime experts say collaboration is the only way forward.

“I realize that folks in San Diego say, ‘Hey, fix it, that’s not our problem,” said Carlos de la Parra, a former Mexican federal environmental official and currently a researcher at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a think tank on border issues. “The fact of the matter is that we continue to live in a border that is unlike any border. There is only one border in the world that unites a developing country and an industrial country and this is it.”

De la Parra is also a board member of the North American Development Bank, a bi-national financial institution funded by the U.S. and Mexican governments that has for years played a critical role is developing the city’s existing wastewater infrastructure. In the past 25 years, the bank has channeled more than $124 million in bank loans, Mexican matching funds and EPA Border Environment Infrastructure funds to the region.

The $1.3 trillion U.S. spending package passed by Congress early Friday and signed by President Trump includes $10 million in funding to continue the EPA’s border infrastructure efforts. But next year’s support remains uncertain.

“The U.S. has to be willing to continue to be a partner to help address binational problems and participate in bi-national solutions,” said Ganster, the SDSU professor, who studied the Tijuana River watershed for years.

In 2015, the search for a binational approach to the issues led to Minute 320, a U.S.-Mexico agreement that looked at ways to resolve issues in the watershed. Led by the IBWC and its Mexican counterpart, CILA, the agreement brings together members of government agencies, environmentalists and citizens from both sides of the border in work groups that address the issues of water quality, sediment and solid waste.

Denise Moreno Ducheny, a former state senator and now a senior policy advisor at the University of California San Diego said it’s time to push for the next step.

“How do we get from work groups to seeing something happen?” asked Ducheny, who is also a North American Development Bank board member. “How do we get the pressure politically and how do we get the funding to make these projects happen?”

Tijuana Pollution Closes San Diego Beaches


Beaches as far north as the Hotel del Coronado have been closed following weekend showers that flushed sewage-polluted water through the Tijuana River and into the Pacific Ocean.

The closures, which started Sunday, also include the shorelines of Border Field State Park, Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial Beach and Silver Strand.

Such impacts have increasingly infuriated South Bay residents in recent years as Tijuana’s sewage infrastructure continues to buckle under the weight of the city’s housing boom.

Beaches as far north as the Hotel del Coronado have been closed following weekend showers that flushed sewage-polluted water through the Tijuana River and into the Pacific Ocean.

The closures, which started Sunday, also include the shorelines of Border Field State Park, Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial Beach and Silver Strand.

Such impacts have increasingly infuriated South Bay residents in recent years as Tijuana’s sewage infrastructure continues to buckle under the weight of the city’s housing boom.

In addition to pathogens found in sewage — including bacteria such as E. coli, vibrio and salmonella — there are several viruses and intestinal parasites that can cause everything from diarrhea to meningitis to respiratory infections.

Under dry conditions, pumps on the Tijuana River divert flows of sewage-tainted water from emptying into the river valley. However, according to federal authorities, the system’s capacity is overwhelmed by nearly any rain event and requires shutting down to prevent damage.

This month, the cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista, as well as the Port of San Diego filed a Clean Water Act lawsuit against the federal government in an attempt to force the funding of projects to divert and or treat the polluted water.

The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. side of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC, hasn’t taken sufficient steps to control sewage, industrial waste, pesticides and massive amounts of trash that regularly flow through the Tijuana River and into the Pacific Ocean.

According to the complaint, sections of the Imperial Beach shoreline were closed for more than 160 days in both 2017 and 2016, as well as for more than 200 days in 2015 as the result of such contamination.

IBWC authorities have countered that they’re actively pursuing binational solutions to limit the water pollution. The agency oversees water treaties with Mexico and facilitates infrastructure spending along the border.

Before the two countries spent hundreds of millions of dollars to construct treatment plants on both sides of the border two decades ago, up to 10 million gallons of raw sewage a day flowed down the Tijuana River and into San Diego County.

Maneadero Garbage Piles


Bajadock: This beautiful view is on one of my favorite hikes. These clandestine garbage dumps are huge throughout the Punta Banda area, west of Maneadero.  Most are 1/2 mile south of the paved Carretera La Bufadora, just far away from traffic to hide the dumping from witnesses.

Due to the fact that garbage trucks take a long time to pass in the Maneadero delegation, some inhabitants and merchants have opted to throw their trash on the ranches, putting at risk the quality certifications that farmers have.

“The problem of trash is something old in Maneadero and has not been able to solve, it seems that the municipality is not interested in solving the problem, they are always waiting for resources and do not start working with the tools they have,” said Raymundo Carrillo Huerta, farmer.

He mentioned that he recently met with other farmers in the area and everyone complained about the large amount of garbage that the inhabitants throw on their ranches every day.

“The trash is affecting us because the ranches are certified and all the effort that the farmers make to have the ranches clean, is at risk due to the lack of awareness of the people and the deficient work of the public services management, if the ranches they get contaminated, we lose our certifications, “he said.

Carrillo Huerta commented that in some parts of the delegation the truck takes a month to pass, however, there are other areas where it can take up to three months without passing.

“People throw everything, in the streams, in the salitral and there are merchants who also throw garbage, there are even people who are dedicated to collecting garbage and charge but then go and throw it to the ranch,” he complained.

The farmer said that another very strong problem is the burning of garbage, since every day in the morning there are people who set fire to their garbage, which causes pollution and risk of a ranch burning.

He also indicated that three years ago they detected more than 30 clandestine garbage dumps in different parts of the delegations and lately they have been discovering more, which is why they demand the intervention of the municipal authority.

“The deputy director of public services, José de la Luz Valdez López, already has three administrations in that unit, he knows the subject well, he is not a novice, we need more attention in Maneadero and his experience is noticed,” he concluded.

Migrant Border Crossing App

On Monday, while a stopgap spending measure was being approved in the Senate as part of a new February deadline for immigration reform, a curious teaser video appeared online.

“What if there was a smarter way that gave people the power to freely enter and reenter the United States with just a few taps of their smartphone?” a narrator asked.

What if?

The slick 72-second spot had largely slipped under the radar, with a mere 59 views at the time it was abruptly taken offline Wednesday evening. That’s something of an irony, considering it’s for a mobile app we’re told is for migrants hoping to avoid immigration authorities while crossing the Mexico-US boundary on foot, including potential obstacles like the “big, beautiful wall” President Donald Trump has repeatedly pledged to build along the southern border.

It’s called Bienvenidos (“Welcome”) and it’s billed as “the world’s first community-based navigation app for migration.” Motherboard first learned of the app in a cold email pitch we received on Monday from “The Bienvenidos Team” (it’s unclear how many others might have gotten the same formulaic release). The project’s website,, claimed the app offers undocumented migrants and individuals a streamlined means of navigating the perils of border crossing, which so often involves days-long treks over harsh terrain in extreme weather. Imagine Waze, Google’s free GPS-based traffic and navigation app, only for transiting the borderlands undetected and in one piece.

But in a hot-button climate around the politics of borders and people moving between them, can one be so sure? Is Bienvenidos, in fact, real?

“Yes, Bienvenidos is real and currently in development,” an individual speaking on behalf of the project told Motherboard over email. “Whether it’s Dreamers or DACA recipients being deported by force, or people attempting to enter the United States for the first time, Bienvenidos attempts to make border crossing simpler, safer, and faster, improving the quality of everyone’s journey,” said the rep, who asked to remain anonymous “given the highly sensitive subject matter that our app engages in.”

Image: Bienvenidos

The pitch is almost deceptively simple: just punch in your location and “get going” with real-time information on optimal routes for jumping the international boundary. Additionally, users will receive live notifications on the whereabouts of US Border Patrol agents stationed over the high-tech dragnet that now defines one of the most expensive borders in the world, where a constellation of ground sensors, hidden cameras, and spy drones feeds into an expanding borderland-industrial complex.

Bienvenidos will also enable users to “outsmart any border wall” with tips about “vulnerabilities and weak spots” in existing fencing and barricades, and to “share tunneling locations and conditions” and drop pins for other crossers along the way. The company site also said it plans to eventually expand the service to France, Germany, the UK, Greece, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Exactly how any of that would work is not entirely clear. There is little by way of information about what the functionality and technological safeguards behind such a tool might look like. The Bienvenidos rep we spoke to declined a request for any kind of working demo or additional information to otherwise show proof of concept. “This app obviously entails a much higher level of security and safety concerns than the typical app,” the rep said, “so we can’t simply disseminate beta versions in the typical way.”

In other words, there’s really no way for us to verify whether Bienvenidos is indeed an app designed with genuinely humanitarian intent. Or if it’s even an app at all. Of course, it might be. But who’s to say Bienvenidos isn’t rather a trolling operation, or a stunt of some kind? Maybe it’s an art project? The nearly 2,000-mile Mexico-US border, after all, has a rich history as a canvas for politically-charged installations and performance pieces meant to feel provocative—disrupting the border, as it were.

Think of the company behind popular card game Cards Against Humanity making a border land-grab to counter US efforts to build up physical barriers there; the Mexican congressman who filmed and tweeted himself scaling and sitting atop the wall last year to mock Trump’s calls to extend it along the entire border; a 65-foot-tall image of a baby’s face peeking over the wall; or that time in 1997, when artist Marcos Ramírez Erre threaded a 33-foot, two-headed Trojan Horse statue through snarling vehicle traffic at the port-of-entry near Tijuana and San Diego. Ramírez Erre carted the wooden equine until it straddled the line between the neighboring countries, a statement on the nature of existing in two nations at the same time.

If Bienvenidos falls into this tradition of border art—and we can’t confidently say itdoesn’t—perhaps it could be seen as part commentary on “the wall,” part indictment of a startup culture that exploits minorities while simultaneously cooperating with government requests for user data.

But if not? If Bienvenidos is, as we’re told it is, a bonafide app? Then it’s a bad idea.

Image: Bienvenidos

“I don’t see the appeal,” Robert Bunker, an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University whose work regularly focuses on Mexico-US borderland issues, told me over email. “So, people crossing the border are going to crowd share their info like car drivers with Google Maps?”

Say Bienvenidos is, truly, an app created with only the best intentions. By offering something other than material aid like food and water, as a volunteer with a migrant rights group in Arizona was recently arrested for, the app is instead facilitating the potential breaking of multiple current US laws, namely illegal border crossings, Bunker said. One also has to wonder whether such a location-based service, in the cat-and-mouse chase between human smuggling and efforts to combat undocumented border crossing, is even something migrants and other crossers, people who are already inclined to draw as little or any unwanted attention to themselves, would willingly sign up for. That’s assuming the forces out against them could just as easily get on Bienvenidos too.

“What would stop Border Patrol agents from signing up for this also?” Bunker said.

The immediate countermeasure to Bienvenidos, if it indeed it is a legitimate product, would be militias and so-called civilian “patriot groups” with a presence along the border, Bunker added. These groups could conceivably figure out how to “spoof” the system, flooding it with false intel about Border Patrol outposts, overhead drones, and sensors.

To this point, we asked Bienvenidos how people who use the app will be protected, if users should be concerned about their cover potentially being blown, and where and how personal information and location data will be collected and stored. The company stressed that security is “clearly paramount” if it is to succeed in making a reliable app, but was vague on specifics.

Image: Bienvenidos

“Everything has been secured from the ground up using robust algorithms and API encryption, in addition to database encryption and encrypted connections with a TLS,” the rep said. “Meaning that we keep all data private while in transit.”

“Additionally, we use a federated database system, which spreads resources across diverse servers that are geographically decentralized, so they’re not all in one place, keeping key resources from users, with additional encryption,” the rep added. “Lastly, user data is secured on a file-by-file basis, providing at-rest data with encryption so that it cannot be interpreted if intercepted.”

On the front end, we’re told, “anyone will be able to download Bienvenidos,” although in order to register over email and then actually utilize the app prospective users will need to clear a “preliminary review process.” The rep claimed anyone trying to sign up for Bienvenidos using a US government-issued email address, including CBP or ICE agents, wouldn’t have access. The company did not respond to follow up questions about what the “preliminary review process” entails and where users get the app once they are approved.

Beyond that, there will be additional safeguards built into the app to “prevent or actively disable” American officials from using it, according to the rep, who told us the app’s functionality hinges on specific movement signatures and “limited engagements.” In this way, it mirrors the mechanics of crossing the border, a “migratory” nature keyed to the app’s proprietary algorithm.

“Aberrant use of the app, including overly extended usage or abnormal movement patterns, are red flags and clear indicators of bad actors, which will prevent usage,” the rep said. “In other words, even if an ICE or CBP agent were to sign up, their starting location and movement style while using the app would be so distinctly different than someone attempting to cross the border that it would trigger an immediate security measure to shutdown their account and prevent usage.”

All of which might demonstrate a grasp of computer security theory, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it squares with the reality on the ground.

“The humanitarian intent of the app and its application in the real world—the use for which they are intending it—is likely not going to play out very well,” Bunker said. “The thought that individuals and families that want to cross the border will go through a preliminary review process with the app developers, as part of the ‘front-end user experience’ is, in my mind, a Silicon Valley fantasy that seems based on upper middle class millennials.”

He said that’s because small groups of individuals or families simply don’t cross from Mexico to the US, over vast tracts of Southwestern desert, on their own or under the watch of independent foot guides, or coyotes. Or at least not like they did back in the day, according to Bunker. It all comes down to the cartels: Mexican organized crime gangs have pulled this illicit market out from under the mom-and-pop operations that formerly controlled border crossings, meaning people who have paid to be smuggled into the US are now often forced to double as drug mules, carrying backpacks full of narcotics. It’s hard to see fertile ground for a robust, independent user pool for an app like Bienvenidos in an environment like the one that currently exists on the border.

“If used by those actually doing the [drug] transport, it would only benefit cartel and gang members involved in human smuggling,” Bunker said. “I have real trouble seeing them actually signing up for this app, as that would make no sense.”

That’s especially true in a liminal place where you just don’t see many smartphones. As we’ve previously reported, most migrants and smugglers attempting to cross the border carry disposable “burner” phones, a ubiquitous pay-as-you-go mobile tech that is an essential tool of border crossings today. Still others don’t use cell phones, period, for fear of inadvertently beaming their location to authorities patrolling the US side. When high-tech tops low-tech, go no tech, basically.

This is something I’ve heard firsthand while reporting in and around the sister cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, a major port-of-entry into the US, a little south of Tucson. Extended interviews with a Sinaloa cartel plaza boss and one of his coyotes gave off a keen sense of a fixation smugglers share with migrants over leaving behind electronic footprints. The coyote, a twentysomething local who I’ll call Juan, claimed at the time that he was crossing 15 to 20 migrants into the US each week, and told me neither he nor the individuals he guides keep phones on them during runs. Juan added that he and his bosses will sometimes confiscate and turn off the phones of migrants ahead of time.

“People are very suspicious here,” Juan said. “They don’t use cell phones.”

As this story was about to go to press Wednesday evening Bienvenidos sent out an update.

“All content has been taken down and currently unavailable,” it said. “Apologies for the confusion, but we’re holding off on our announcement after all for the time being.”

With additional reporting by Jason Koebler.

2018 Driest in 70 Years ENSENADA, Baja California(GH)

2018 will be a year with more heat and less rain due to a system of semi -permanent high pressure, which was reinforced by the condition ‘La Niña’ and blocked the winter masses, said Santiago Higareda Cervera, Laboratory Meteorological Forecast Center Scientific research and Higher Education of Ensenada (Cicese).

“The driest year we’ve had in Ensenada was in 1953, with 86.7 millimeters of rain. In November 2017 and had 5 mm rainfall during the first 2018 fell from 24 to 25 millimeters. With that he took approximately 30, so if it does not rain more than 50 millimeters in the remainder of this season, 2018 could be the driest year in the last 70 years , “he said.

He added that for 80 years has seen the condition “El Niño” influences in this region of Mexico and part of California, generating the average coldest days and heavy rains. “La Niña”, meanwhile, is associated with less amount of precipitation and warmer days.

” We ended a neutral year and had a ‘La Niña’, which warns a dry year, the average over the past 70 years tells us that when the year ‘Niña’ expected about 90 to 150 millimeters of precipitation, however when ‘El Niño’, more than 250 millimeters of rain, which is the annual average for this area is hope , “he said.

After 1953 the driest years in Cove (caused by the condition of “La Niña”) were 1968, with 93 mm of rainfall, and 1950, with 98.2, while the year 1978 were more precipitation with 677.2 mm.; 1983, with 588.7, and 1980, with 477.8 millimeters of precipitation, however, conditions in these years “El Niño” presented intense.

“In Ensenada we live in a region where there is little rain. Our rainy season runs from October to April. In season 2017-2018 has heard that the rains were late, but that’s not entirely true, the general circulation of the atmosphere is generating systems, whether high or low pressure, and it is these that will will allow storms or cold air masses fall down or not , “he explained.

The researcher said that currently there is a system of semi – permanent high pressure, which was reinforced by the condition ‘La Niña’ and blocked the winter masses from October to December 2017 as a result there was less rain and days warmer, like in summer and not in winter.

“The port of Ensenada has a peculiarity regarding other states: the climate here is very variant, the Pacific Ocean is the same for the whole republic, but here is the California Current is a stream of cold waters from Alaska and it goes down to San Jose del Cabo, that takes to the West and back up to Alaska , “he explained.

In Mexico the entity responsible for weather information is the National Water Commission, which depends on the National Weather Service. However, besides this commission, the Navy, the Mexican Air Force, Army and other Mexican institutions make weather forecasts.

“In the Cicese will work with all these models that emit Mexican and international institutions, what we do is analyze information, see patterns and thus determine and issue the forecast for our region , ” he said.

In addition to the weather forecast, visualize are responsible for climate changes covering longer periods of time, climatological statistics and storage models later make comparative thereof.

“One of the recommendations for the population is a change of habits around what we can do with the little rainwater that reaches our region, Baja California is a state where there is little rain; That’s a reality we can not change what we can change our habits are, we must be prepared and take the little water that comes and prevent all go to the sea, “he said.

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