TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the United States International Boundary and Water Commission announced a settlement agreement on June 30, 2020 that will rehabilitate the International Outfall Interceptor pipeline that runs into Nogales from Sonora, Mexico.
According to ADEQ and USIBWC, $38,790,000 are available to begin the project. The plan is to upgrade the aged watershed conveyance pipeline that runs from the border into the treatment plant in Rio Rico and to install protective measures along the areas that are most susceptible to damage.
Wastewater spillage into groundwater has been an issue for more than 20 years, and has only received temporary fixes.
“This agreement is a major win for Southern Arizona, helping resolve decades-old issue that threatened the health and safety of residents and the environment in Nogales and Santa Cruz County,” said Gov. Doug Ducey.
ADEQ is also working to install a large metal screen on the border that will catch incoming debris from Mexico, estimating between $2.6-$3.3 million and $360,000 for year-round maintenance.
USIBWC is also negotiating with Mexican authorities for cost participation.
Engineering plans for the project are complete, and local and state officials are discussing the best access points to begin rehabilitation.
Roughly 12 million gallons of water are discharged daily from the treatment facility in Rio Rico into the Santa Cruz River, which replenishes almost 40 percent of groundwater in the area and supports ranching, farming and domestic water use in Santa Cruz and Pima Counties.