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Sewage and Plastic Pollution in Imperial Beach, California: A Public Health Educational Campaign

Location: Imperial Beach, California

Imperial Beach is a city in the southwestern area of San Diego County just 5 miles north of the Mexico border. Community members have protested sewage and trash runoff, odors, ear infections, bacteria levels, skin rashes, and unusual taste in the water, despite governmental water quality testing policies.

Recent studies have shown there is still a large amount of sewage flowing into the waterways of Imperial Beach that flow into the Pacific Ocean. Among this sewage there are large amounts of plastic fractures, micro-plastics, and sediment from Mexico across the border into the US. The sewage and plastic pollution hybrid stems from the rapid population growth of Tijuana, Mexico where some residents do not have proper plumbing and infrastructure facilities which end up in drainage systems that flow directly into the Tijuana River, which in turn directly flow north from Tijuana to the US. Through the development of an interactive dashboard with data on cancer percentile rate in census blocks, respiratory illness percentile rates, among other health indicators. The project’s main objective is to raise public awareness of Imperial Beach’s pollution problem and to explain how long-term exposure to sewage in the water can harm swimmers’ health.

Thomas Derig is a Master of Science in Big Data Analytics Student in the Department of Geography, College of Arts and Letters at San Diego State University in San Diego, California.




Dr. Gabriela Fernandez
Graduate Course
Smart Cities and Sustainability. Data Science Methods for Smart City Applications
Master of Science in Big Data Analytics Program,
Department of Geography, College of Arts and Letters, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, Spring 2022
Schedule Number #20470