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Reactions to the long-awaited Government Accountability Office report on Bajagua are pouring in, and two neutral observers are decrying what they see as an incomplete examination of the issue.

I just got off the phone with Cory Briggs, the environmental attorney who authored a white paper on border sewage problems last year. Briggs, who has not taken a position on Bajagua, said the GAO report had been botched.

The GAO report says it ignored several things in comparing the Bajagua Project LLC’s public-private proposal to treat 59 million gallons of Tijuana’s sewage daily to a federal plan to upgrade an existing sewage treatment plant in San Ysidro, which would treat 25 million gallons each day. Specifically, the report did not consider:

  • Whether either proposal would have any effect on the untreated sewage that washes down Tijuana’s hillsides and into the Pacific Ocean, routinely closing beaches as far north as Coronado.
  • Whether existing assessments of Tijuana’s sewage infrastructure needs are accurate.
  • Whether Bajagua would be able to recycle treated wastewater from its proposed plant, which could potentially reduce its annual cost.

“It was a golden opportunity to get it right, to study the whole issue, let the premier research agency look at it,” Briggs said. “Instead they opted for a quickie report. It’s such a joke of a report it doesn’t even rise to the level of a rubber stamp.”

Bruce Reznik, executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper, echoed Briggs’ sentiment. In an e-mailed statement, he said:

The GAO report is not the comprehensive assessment of border sewage treatment strategies that is needed to address this chronic problem. It would be impossible to use this report to justify moving ahead with any particular project.

We’ll have more on this soon.

ROB DAVIS

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