Yesterday I did a home inspection in San Ysidro. It’s pretty close to the most southwestern point in the continental United States:
The most southwestern point, though, is not a city. It’s a park, the Border Field State Park:
See that doohickey behind the sign, though, the one with the circular thingy on the top?
What do you suppose that is?
I thought it was a fence, but when I examined it closer, turns out it’s not a fence at all.
It’s an “Ocean Outfall Anti-Intrusion Structure”:
I’m pretty sure that whatever was within the fenced area was the ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure. But just WHAT IS an ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure? A-ha! (not the group). I’m glad you asked.
An ocean outfall is a sewer pipe that terminates in the ocean. (Yuk! I’m never going in the ocean again!)
I do know that the ocean outfall sewer pipe was built in 1998 and cost a whopping $131 million. (That would cover the cost of 32,750,000 happy hour margaritas at On The Border! ►)
Actually, the outfall is sewage that has been treated at the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant.
In other words, the United States built a wastewater treatment plant to treat raw sewage flowing from Tijuana (that’s in Mexico!) into the United States via the Tijuana River.
The Tijuana River is 120 miles long, but only 115 miles is in Mexico. The final five miles are in San Diego County, running through the Tijuana River Estuary and Border Field State Park.
I found a map that shows exactly what is going on here:
Tijuana used to dump a great majority of their raw sewage into the Tijuana River, but the map above shows the San Antonio de los Buenos Treatment Plant, the Tijuana Wastewater Canal, and Pump Station No. 1 with an arrow pointing to the International Wastewater Treatment Plant in the United States. So now, instead of dumping all that sewage into the river, it gets treated and pumped to the United States for further treatment, after which it is dumped into the Pacific Ocean four miles offshore. Oh, the complicated things we do to get rid of our poop….
Here’s what the Tijuana River used to look like at the time I arrived in San Diego in April 1993:
That was on the Mexico side of the border, but you can imagine the crap (pun intended) that was flowing in the river to the United States side.
And warning signs were everywhere on the beaches near the mouth of the Tijuana River:
Okay, so we know what an ocean outfall is, but what about the anti-intrusion structure part of it? What’s going through my mind is spies in their diving suits four miles out there in the Pacific Ocean finding the termination point of the ocean outfall pipe and swimming four miles through the pipe to eventually wind up on land…. AND IN THE UNITED STATES! How terrible would that be, to have sewage-covered spies arriving secretly in the United States! The anti-intrusion structure prevents those dastardly spies from getting into the United States! Oh, my mind is just full of visuals from B-grade spy movies of the ’60s….
A second thought is that there is some sort of one-way valve behind the fence that prevents ocean water from intruding through the pipe and into the wastewater treatment plant. The fence prevents someone from tampering with the valve. Hmmm. That actually seems plausible….
But I like my spy movie better….
Sadly, Google and Wikipedia are providing absolutely no help here, so I’m going with spies….
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