The Bajagua Project LLC, the San Marcos-based company that aims to build a sewage-treatment plant in Tijuana, has been granted the right to intervene in a state lawsuit against the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, an arm of the State Department.

Here’s what that means: The company can argue for its own interests next month when a judge decides whether or not to kill the project.

The private company said earlier this year it will not meet a court-ordered September 2008 deadline to expand and improve treatment at a San Ysidro sewage plant that handles 25 million gallons of Mexican sewage daily. The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, the local water regulator, sued the IBWC to force it to upgrade treatment at the plant, which has never met federal Clean Water Act standards.

The water commission suspended its activities with Bajagua earlier this year and is now awaiting word from a federal judge who will decide whether to extend the company’s timetable.

In granting the right to intervene in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz said that Bajagua’s best interests aren’t represented by the federal water commission.

The judge wrote:

It appears that USIBWC and Bajagua have divergent interests. Although USIBWC also desires an extension of the compliance deadline, there is a question as to whether USIBWC’s arguments regarding the timing and necessity of the extension will be the same as Bajagua’s.

Bajagua spokesman Craig Benedetto said he believed the judge recognized that the company had interests that weren’t protected in court — particularly by anyone participating in a Sept. 14 court hearing. The court date will likely determine whether Bajagua gets more time to build its plant or whether the project gets killed. Bajagua will now be able to make its case.

“We believe the court recognizes that the IBWC was not acting in good faith with Bajagua,” Benedetto said.

ROB DAVIS

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