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The U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission awarded an $88 million contract to an Arizona company to upgrade a plant that collects and treats 25 million gallons of Tijuana’s sewage.

The move, once complete, would bring the federal government into compliance with the Clean Water Act, which requires that the treatment plant clean the sewage more thoroughly than it currently does before pumping it into the ocean.

It would not resolve the months-long beach closures caused when rainfalls flush waste dumped in Tijuana’s streets into the Pacific Ocean. The city has insufficient treatment capacity for its estimated 1.4 million residents.

The contract with Tempe-based PCL Construction comes almost six months after the commission, a State Department agency, decided to scuttle the controversial plans offered by the Bajagua Project, a San Marcos-based company that had aimed to expand sewage treatment capacity in Mexico at a cost of at least $539 million.

Bajagua proposed to build a 59-million-gallon sewage treatment plant in Tijuana that would have more than doubled the city’s treatment capacity. Once the plant was built, the United States was to pay Bajagua — a private company — to operate it.

Instead, the commission says construction on the plant upgrade will be completed in two years.


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