County Board And Calexico City Council Approve Resolution
BY MARIO CONDE
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors and Calexico City Council passed a resolution urging the federal government to take decisive and timely action to eliminate bypasses of raw sewage from Mexicali into the New River.
The action is taken after raw sewage spills that have gone into the New River in the last few months. Back in January, a sewage collector collapsed in Mexicali discharging 1.73 million gallons per day into the New River.
Just in this year, the County of Imperial has been notified of four discharges of untreated sewage water into the New River. In an effort to address the problem, the County of Imperial is working closely with federal and state regulators to cooperatively address the sewage issues in Mexicali that continue to impact the New River and the Board of Supervisors have discussed and taken action on items pertaining to the issue.
In March 2017, the Board discussed the status of the sewage spills in Mexicali, Mexico as well as the New River Improvement Project with Jose Angel, the Executive Officer of the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board. Additionally, in April 2017, policy meetings were held with state and federal agencies to discuss and coordinate efforts to implement a project for the standby pumping equipment and to seek funding to implement the project as a matter of priority including binational funding.
“We have an $80 million problem in Mexicali that is estimated that is going to take to fix the problems in Mexico and what we are asking if for replacement of sewage collectors and rebuilding of pumping facilities.” stated Jose Angel, Executive Office CWRQCB. “The priority is to stop any future raw sewage spills and that what we told our federal officials. He added that repairs of these infrastructure problems are estimated from $75 million to $80 million and the equipment needed for these repairs, which is customarily a standard asset of any discharger who owns and operates a sewage collection and treatment system to prevent discharges of untreated wastes from broken pipes and pumping facilities, is lacking in Mexicali.
Angel stated that it is estimated that acquiring the necessary equipment which would effectively eliminate the bypasses altogether, would cost only approximately 1% of the estimated $80 million that is going to take to fix the problems, however without the equipment and the satisfactory abatement and elimination of raw sewage by the United States Federal Government and Mexico, implementing the New River Improvement Project Strategic Plan’s recommendation for Calexico are not feasible.
“This is not a Calexico issue, this is not an Imperial Valley issue, this is a statewide and international issue and we need to speak in one voice.” Angel told the board of Supervisors.
Several binational projects were completed to repair and replace much of the sewage infrastructure in Mexicali from 1999 to 2007 thus resulting in significant water quality improvements in the New River at the International Border. In spite of the binational efforts, in 2014, the California Water Boards, under the Calexico River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board, notified the Federal government that Mexicali was expecting sewage discharges again into New River due to aged and dilapidated sewage collectors and other infrastructure that was either not repaired or replaced when the other projects were completed or were part of older projects.
“Bottom line is that this equipment should have been acquired to begin with back when the original binational investment in 1995-2007 was made,” Angel said.