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Bajagua did not fare so well in 2007. First the Wall Street Journal excoriated the San Marcos company in a front-page story in January ’07. Then the Associated Press weighed in a month later with a piece titled, “Mexico border sewage deal hits the rocks.” Finally San Diego Magazine’s December issue, included S.D. Liddick’s (“A sewer runs through it)

comprehensive analysis of Bajagua:

SOMETHING IS ROTTEN in the state of California, and the smell goes all the way to the White House. For 10 years, a bitter and polarized South Bay debate has festered over a controversial San Marcos company, Bajagua Project LLC. The story surrounding the Bajagua boondoggle takes more turns than the road to Big Sur and weaves through the contemporary collision of politics and big business. Bajagua appears to have courted favor with Vice President Dick Cheney’s office — one of the central cogs of the George Bush administration that’s outsourced and sole-sourced a record number of government contracts to the private sector. Fighting the company is a consortium of environmentalists and engineers who say Bajagua’s plans are an unnecessary distraction, carrying an undisclosed price tag (up to $780 million) that will line the pockets of a group of well-heeled investors but delay work on the real issue: the pollution of South Bay beaches and ocean water.

Thanks to Senator Dianne Feinstein, $66 million was included in this year’s federal budget for an alternative secondary sewage treatment plant to be built on the U.S. side of the border. Bajagua would cost an estimated $600 to $780 million according to press reports. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune:

Expanding the current facility has been pegged at roughly $100 million. The Government Accountability Office [GAO], the investigative arm of Congress, is comparing the projects and is expected to report its findings by late April. In the meantime, boundary commission [IBWC] leaders said in court papers that they have hired an engineering firm to update old designs for the San Ysidro upgrades and refine cost estimates. They also are looking at how to increase the treatment capacity of the existing plant [San Ysidro plant] to 100 million gallons a day.

It is more than likely that the GAO will rule that Bajagua is a bad deal for taxpayers and will do little to solve our beach closure crisis (the south end of Imperial Beach has been closed more than 1,530 days over the past decade as a result of Tijuana pollution). And that would thankfully mean the end of the Bajagua nightmare.

However, my sources inform me that even though U.S. Reps. Bob Filner, Brian Bilbray (shame on Bilbray for spending more time promoting Bajagua than defending Trestles and San Onofre) and Duncan Hunter are making a last-minute and desperate attempt to influence the GAO’s investigation, they are way too late to impact the outcome.

Hopefully since these three federal legislators have blocked efforts for the past decade to sensibly and cost-effectively solve the border beach closure crisis, maybe after Bajagua is cancelled they will work with the actual residents of the border region, rather than their Rancho Santo Fe campaign donors, to clean up the most polluted beaches in North America.

Or maybe they and their friends at Bajagua will retire to a retirement home with the lobbyists from the TCA and fume about being kicked in the teeth by a group of rag-tag surfers and environmentalists.

If you have the courage to write an opinion, than you should have the courage to attach your name to it. I will not respond to anonymous comments — especially those written by Bajagua staff and lobbyists.

— SERGE DEDINA

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