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The fate of the Bajagua Project LLC, the San Marcos-based company that aims to expand sewage-treatment capacity in Tijuana, appears to rest in the hands of a federal judge.

The private company will miss a court-ordered deadline to build its plant by Sept. 2008, and the federal government said today it is suspending all its activities with Bajagua until a federal judge can decide whether to extend the company’s timetable. Bajagua wants a five-month extension to the deadline.

In the meantime, any action taken by Bajagua is not authorized by the federal government and is at “Bajagua’s own risk,” wrote Carlos Marin, commissioner of the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, the arm of the State Department that oversees the project.

Marin sent the letter to John Robertus, the executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, the regulatory agency that oversees the region’s waterways. The board sued the federal government to improve sewage treatment at a San Ysidro plant that treats 25 million gallons of Tijuana’s sewage daily. The plant is under a court order to clean out more waste from the sewage it treats. It currently fails to meet federal Clean Water Act standards.

Bajagua aims to expand the plant’s capacity and improve the level of treatment. But its cost to American taxpayers still remains a mystery. The company missed a May 2 deadline to execute a contract that would have divulged that information.

The federal government has budgeted $66 million this year to improve treatment capacity at the San Ysidro plant if Bajagua fails. He urged Robertus to vet any concerns about that plan, “in light of the current uncertainties.”

ROB DAVIS

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