By: Fay Crevoshay, WILDCOAST’s Communications & Policy Director
On February 14, the Ambassador of the U.S. in Mexico, and former Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar came to visit the WILDCOAST trash boom project in Los Laureles, Baja California, Mexico. The event turned out to be a unique show of political will and unity between the US and México to solve the Tijuana River transboundary water and plastic pollution. During the event with Ambassador Salazar, the group toured the trash boom installed by WILDCOAST and then participated in a meeting during which WILDCOAST presented the project and steps for its expansion.
“We cannot do this alone. We need your support. It’s time for NGOs, the private sector and the government to work together,” said Fay Crevoshay, Communications and Policy Director of WILDCOAST.
Tijuana’s mayor, Montserrat Caballero, Secretary of Territorial, Urban, and Environmental Development of the Municipal Government of Tijuana, Miguel Angel Bujanda, Secretary of the Environment of Baja California, Monica Vega, Secretary of the Environment of California, Jared Blumenfeld, a representative of NADBank, and a representative of the Secretary of the Exterior of Mexico were all in attendance. The entire Tijuana press core participated and it was an impressive show of unity.
“One Ecosystem, Two Countries” became the theme of this monumental meeting to address the border pollution issue.
WILDCOAST has installed the first ever solid waste retention system (trash boom) in Mexico in Los Laureles Canyon, a tributary stream of the Tijuana River in Tijuana, B.C. that has already prevented 72,752.547 lbs of solid waste from entering the Tijuana River and the ocean. Approximately 93% of the waste captured is plastic and tires.
Because WILDCOAST’s effort has been so effective, a plan to install two new trash booms is in the works.
WILDCOAST has identified the communities of Camino Verde and Matadero Canyon as key locations for the next two trashbooms. These booms would reduce an additional 35% of plastics from reaching the Pacific Ocean.
In Camino Verde, community leaders came to talk to WILDCOAST and expressed an interest in recreating our program in their neighborhood, improving the infrastructure within the concrete basins that flow into the stream, which is another tributary of the Tijuana River. The current conditions present public and environmental health problems due to improperly disposed of waste.
In Matadero Canyon, waste from illegal dumps is carried into the stream when it rains. At times the deluge of waste is so intense it clogs the stream, as it did in 2020.
Ambassador Salazar promised to return to Tijuana in a couple of months to check on the process to turnaround the Tijuana River’s status from a big binational problem to an examplary achievement by the US and Mexico working together. He wants to celebrate this success and so do we. WILDCOAST continues to work on expanding its outreach and campaign and recycling more plastics and waste tires as we seek additional funding for the next two trashbooms.
“It needs to be a collaborative process between the two countries, but the success of the first trashboom shows that we can make a difference and help stop this deluge of trash,” declares WILDCOAST’s Fay Crevoshay.
“The innovative efforts of WILDCOAST to halt the tsunami of trash along the U.S.-Mexico border illustrate how small actions can have a big impact on protecting our coast and ocean and endangered wildlife,” adds Executive Director Serge Dedina, PhD.