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The Tijuana River, like the Los Angeles River, is a once free-flowing body of water restrained by a cement canal. This bit of engineering has had the predictable effect of flushing water that might be repurposed straight out to the ocean. And as in Los Angeles, it’s also contributed to an urban heat island effect.
Los Angeles has been examining the role its river can play in the city’s greater ecology. Even architect Frank Gehry is involved in a makeover for the L.A. River.
In Tijuana, another architect is devising a plan to turn the Tijuana River channel into a solar farm that could provide power to as many as 30,000 homes.
Rene Peralta, co-founder of the Tijuana firm Generica and director of an architecture master’s program at San Diego’s Woodbury University, thinks that his city can transform this unwieldy piece of infrastructure into a renewable energy plant and water-cleaning station.
“This is the first thing you see when you enter the country from the United States,” says Peralta, standing on a bridge over the river on a sunny January morning. “And sometimes it’s the first thing that you smell.” On a warm day, the river can take on the aroma of hard-boiled eggs past their prime.
So the architect teamed with urban planner Jim Bliesner of the Center for Urban Economics and Design at UC San Diego to developed the solar farm proposal that would involve straddling panels over the arroyo for the river’s nearly 11-mile course. […]