New Video Calls Attention to Pollution Problems of Tijuana River for Earth Day


Tyler Carlisle
Tijuana Tide Director/Writer
T.: (323) 605-8053


Dr. Randy Olson
Shiftingbaselines Filmmaker
T.: (323) 960-4517


Dr. Jeff Crooks
Research Coordinator,
NOAA Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve
T.: (619) 575-3613, x. 333


Dr. Richard Gersberg
Professor of Environmental Health,
San Diego State University,
T.: (619) 594-2905


Oscar Romo
NOAA Coastal Training Program Coordinator
T.: (619) 575-3613, x. 311


Fay Crevoshay
Director de Comunicaciones
T.: (619) 423-8665 ext. 205
C.: (619) 309-5445

Relevant Links:



May 14, 2009

Flash Player plugin required. Go here to download the latest version.

Para ver el video en español, oprime aqui.

April 22, 2009

Contact: Marsha Gear, California Sea Grant, 858-534-0581,
Para español, llame: Fay Crevoshay, WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE,
Tel: 619.423.8665 ext. 205
Cel: 619.309.5445

“Shifting Baselines in the Tijuana Tide” is a new 5-minute video to be released on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, from the Shifting Baselines Ocean Media Project. 

Beach closure at Imperial Beach

Beach closure due to contaminated water. Credit: Katarzyna Balug
(Click on image to view full-sized.)

It addresses the ocean conservation problems from the highly polluted Tijuana River.  The video (available in English and Spanish)  is a co-production with California Sea Grant and University of Southern California Sea Grant, and Wildcoast. In addition, The Annenberg Foundation, The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment and USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies provided partial funding and Surfrider Foundation is assisting with outreach and distribution.

“The Tijuana River is one of the worst sources of ocean pollution in North America,” says writer/director of the film, Tyler Carlisle.   “It’s a problem that is currently caught up in a cross-border blame game as the large-scale problems continue to go unaddressed.”  

The video presentation is intended to help local conservation efforts effectively communicate the current situation. Over 60 percent of Tijuana’s raw sewage flows directly into the Tijuana River, making its way through the estuary before emptying into the ocean. This pollution is worst during the rainy season, when dangerous levels of fecal bacteria and viruses such as Hepatitis A can be found in the water. Even with the diversion of dry-weather flows to a sewage treatment plant, significant problems remain. Local beach-goers pay the price for this problem; beaches nearest the Tijuana River mouth are closed an average of 200 days per year. A bit further north around the Imperial Beach pier, the average is about 50 days per year of closed beaches.

Pervious Pavers

Pervious pavers being installed in Tijuana. Credit: Tijuana Estuary Coastal Training Program
(Click on image to view full-sized.)

The video encourages viewers to join local efforts (see below) in an attempt to curb the overall pollution and runoff problem. It was posted on multiple websites on Earth Day, along with a Spanish-language version of the same piece.

A colonia in Tijuana

Homes on a Tijuana hillside. Credit: Guillermo Buelna
(Click on image to view full-sized.)

The project is part of the on-going efforts of the Shifting Baselines Ocean Media Project (, which brings together ocean conservationists and filmmakers in an effort to communicate the problems to wider audiences.  It is based at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and has more than 20 partner groups, including co-founding partners Scripps and Surfrider Foundation. 

A limited number of DVDs will be available that will include both English and Spanish language high-resolution versions of the video. To request a copy , please email Marsha Gear, California Sea Grant at

Tires in Tijuana river valley

Sunset at closed beach. Credit: Jay Vavra
(Click on image to view full-sized.)

Get involved:

Earth Island Institute -
I Love a Clean San Diego -
Pro Peninsula -
San Diego Baykeeper -
San Diego CoastKeeper -
San Diego Oceans Foundation -
Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project -
Surfrider -
Tijuana River Valley Recovery Team -
Wildcoast -


Erosion in Tijuana Hills

Erosion in Tijuana hills.
Credit: Ben McCue
(Click on image to view full-sized.)

Yuman indians

Yuman indians. Credit: Timothy H. O'Sullivan (Public Domain)
(Click on image to view full-sized.)

Border Fence (color and BW)

Border Fence BW Color.
Credit: Guillermo Buelna
(Click on image to view full-sized.)