The International Wastewater Treatment Plant became operational in January 1999 and significantly reduced beach closures. The city of Imperial Beach has been a strong advocate in addressing the issues of secondary treatment at the treatment plant and addressing infrastructure needs south of the Border.
In 2000, when Proposition 13 funds were approved for The Clean Beach Initiative Grants Program, Imperial Beach wrote an innovative grant proposal to reduce health risks and increase public access to clean beaches. This proactive stance earned the city statewide recognition as "Clean Beach Partner -- 2002" for the partnership with Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Together with the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, the State Water Resources Control Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Imperial Beach created a ground-breaking monitoring system called the San Diego Coastal Ocean Observing System. The system tracks weather and ocean conditions to provide real-time data combined with data from the weather radar and satellite from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are eight water quality-testing sites assessing ocean conditions in and near Imperial Beach, which contribute greatly to increasing an understanding of the ocean's flow and environmental pollution, and enables quicker response and better environmental management if conditions should change. Heal the Bay, the non-profit environmental organization, produces an Annual Beach Report Card for beaches from Humboldt County to San Diego County. All five monitoring locations in Imperial Beach scored an A or A+ grade for 2003, while other beaches received ratings ranging from F to A. The San Diego County 2003 Beach Closure and Advisory Report reported that Imperial Beach's closures and advisories were well below the average when compared to other beaches in San Diego County. In 2003 the average number of "posted days" for all San Diego beaches was almost 38 days, while IB was posted for only 25 days.