City of Nogales Declares State of Emergency

KOLD News 13 Reporter, Suleika Acosta

A state of emergency in Nogales, Arizona, for the second time in less than a year. Flooding has torn up part of a wash that covers a massive sewer line.

On Sunday, monsoon rain caused part of the wash's floor to break off. Crews are now repairing some of the damage but Nogales city officials say this is only a temporary fix.

"It's a bigger problem than The City of Nogales has the resources to deal with," says Deputy City Manager John Kissinger.

The international wash that runs through the center of Nogales is threatening the safety of Southern Arizona. The 70-year-old waterway is breaking down faster than crews can work.

"We're anticipating more damage to the wash and more repair needs to be done. We need to put what we call a Band-Aid or a patch on top of this flooring to try to protect this area of the wash further damage and erosion from happening," says Kissinger.

But what concerns city officials the most is what lies underneath the wash: a 30 inch pipe carrying 14 million gallons of raw sewage from Nogales, Sonora to a waste water treatment plant in Rio Rico. The wash dumps water into the Santa Cruz River and if that sewage pipe is damaged it could be an environmental disaster.

"We've declared a state of emergency again this year so we're asking for support from the federal government and the state government to support us," says Mayor Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel.

Also at risk is the railroad that runs parallel to the wash. It will cost $500,000 just to fix the small area crews are working on.

Last year, state and federal money helped repair a portion of the wash but city officials say it wasn't enough.

Santa Cruz County and the Army Corp of Engineers are helping with the repairs, adding sandbags to the bottom of the wash to protect the sewage pipe.

But the rain will continue to damage the aging wash until the real problem is dealt with.

"We literally need to build a new wash, all and all that's what we're asking for, it needs to be done, it's critical in our community," adds Garcia.