SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — As of Friday morning, more than 600 colonias were without running water in Tijuana and Rosarito, where residents say service has been spotty since last year.
Facing the possibility of running out of water, Tijuana’s State Commission for Public Services, CESPT, turned to the San Diego County Water Authority for help.
Agreements in place between Mexico and the United States allow for water deliveries in times of emergency or severe drought.
So last week, the San Diego-based agency began sending water to Tijuana.
Compounding the problem is the deterioration of Tijuana’s main aqueduct that delivers water from the Colorado River, the city’s main source of water. So far, repairs are taking longer than expected.
According to CESPT, more than 20 kilometers of line have shown problems that need to be addressed.
Due to the short supply and delivery issues, the city has been forced to cut off water to more than 40 percent of the population, and it says more could lose service in the weeks ahead.
“How are you going to drain your toilet? How are you going to wash? how are you going to take a shower?” asked Arturo Rosas, a Tijuana resident.
Rosas told Border Report his water was shut off as of this morning, adding that it’s been terrible since last year with constant outages that can last up to weeks at a time.
“Last time it went for almost a month and everywhere you looked, everywhere you went looking for water around you, it was already gone.”
Rosas says many residents including himself, use large water containers as a way to store water when it’s flowing, but that supply quickly runs out.
“We go through that quick,” he said.
Rosas stated he and his neighbors will welcome any water from the U.S. side of the border.
“That’s crazy, that means our water supply is really low, but if they’re helping out, that’s amazing, you don’t see that a lot.”
According to the SDCWA, cross-border emergency deliveries started more than 50 years ago and are governed by an agreement between the United States and Mexico. And that the water authority “provides emergency water deliveries to Mexico through a cross-border connection in Otay Mesa.”
“We’re extremely proud of how quickly the Water Authority staff worked to meet the emergency water needs of our neighbors to the south,” said Mel Katz, Water Authority Board Chair. “Coordinating with multiple agencies and getting the necessary approvals in just three days was a team effort and is a credit to the Water Resources and Operations & Maintenance departments.”
CESPT has said it has agreed to pay $2.2 million for emergency water through the end of February.
It also admitted paying more than $4 million for north-of-the-border water during the last five months of 2022.
SDCWA wrote in a statement that “consistent with the previously approved schedule, planned water deliveries will restart in April and continue through September 2023.