Press Release: Cross-Border Collaboration Applies Science to Real-World Challenges in Tijuana Canyon

UCSD-TV program follows researchers, students seeking sustainable solutions for Los Laureles Canyon settlement

Los Laureles Web Page

LA JOLLA, CA There may be a border dividing us, but when it comes to the environmental challenges facing Los Laureles, a canyon that crosses the U.S.-Mexico border and spills into the sensitive wetlands of California s Tijuana Estuary, we all must deal with the consequences. That s why researchers and students from both countries have come together to try to affect change in this place that 65,000 people call home. The UCSD-TV documentary Los Laureles Canyon: Research in Action follows the story and premieres November 2 at 8pm on UCSD-TV, and online at

The canyon s challenges demonstrate our environmental interconnectedness, despite the borders that divide us: open streams of untreated wastewater flow from the settlement into the California estuary that local wildlife depend upon for survival; recycled tires from the U.S. end up as the building blocks of retaining walls used to delay the inevitable erosion, while leaking dangerous toxins into the soil; and an increasingly dry climate causes more toxic dust for the residents to inhale. This unsustainable scenario is exactly what the researchers and students featured in the program are seeking to change.

UC San Diego Urban Studies and Planning Lecturer Keith Pezzoli leads the effort with what he refers to as the scholarship of engagement. He first gathered together experts in public health, environmental health science, climate change and urban planning from the U.S. and Mexico to review the area s many challenges and devise an action plan. Working closely with Oscar Romo of the Tijuana Estuary and Hiram Sarabia of the UCSD Superfund Research Program, Pezzoli then brought students and fellow researchers into the community to get their hands dirty building pervious pavers to place on top of the dusty roads, taking soil samples, interacting with canyon residents, and gaining an understanding of how academic research can have a direct impact on people s lives.

Los Laureles Canyon has profound urban and ecological problems, said the program s leader Keith Pezzoli. To tackle some of these problems--which are increasingly common in low-income human settlements worldwide--we ve been experimenting with new ways to join science, education and community outreach. The UCSD-TV documentary tells this story with a hopeful outlook.

UCSD-TV offers programming unlike anything else in San Diego. UCSD-TV airs on Cox and Time Warner Ch. 135, Time Warner Del Mar Ch. 19, AT&T UVerse Ch. 99, and UHF (no cable) Ch. 35. For more information, program schedules and more, visit

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