Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What happened last summer

Arizona Daily Star
June 2, 2009
by Brady McCombs

On July 12, 2008, heavy rains fell in the border region, causing an estimated $8 million in damage to Nogales, Sonora, where water pooled up as high as 6 feet along storefronts.

On the U.S. side, floodwaters dislodged a 200-foot section of a drainage channel floor, exposing a pipe carrying raw sewage. Days later, two bodies were found floating farther north in the wash, likely having become trapped in the drainage channel during the flooding.

The Mexican section of the International Boundary and Water Commission said a 5-foot-tall concrete barrier put up in the tunnel by the U.S. Border Patrol without notifying the commission or Mexican officials reduced the flow of storm water by 40 percent in the tunnel, causing the damage.

Part of that barrier — designed to stop smuggling through the tunnel —was found to be in Mexico. The structure was torn down in the fall.

The U.S. section of the commission conducted a hydraulic analysis but didn't agree with Mexico's findings. Officials from the U.S. section of the commission said large pipes that run horizontally across the tunnel in Mexico could have slowed the flow of water and contributed to the flooding as well. The two sides never reached an agreement, said John Merino, principal engineer with the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission.

Two of those pipes in Mexico have been removed in a reconstruction project. The third one is scheduled to be removed this week.


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