Washington, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) sent the following letter to Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey urging him to commence the Disaster Declaration process and seek immediate federal assistance to address imminent threats of water sewage exposure to thousands of Arizona residents. On July 24th, the City of Nogales Sewer Department discovered a large section of The International Outfall Interceptor (I.O.I.) – which conveys approximately 10 million gallons of raw sewage to the International treatment plant – had been exposed in Nogales. With the recent identification of a breach of a pipeline just north of Nogales, this constitutes an immediate danger to public health and may meet the criteria of a state of emergency.
You can read the full letter here or view it below:
The Honorable Doug Ducey
Governor of Arizona
1700 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Dear Governor Ducey,
I formally call on you to commence the Disaster Declaration process for the State of Arizona to secure immediate federal assistance to remedy and prevent raw sewage exposure to Arizona residents. The International Outfall Interceptor (I.O.I.), which conveys approximately 10 million gallons of raw sewage to the International treatment plant, has been exposed in the Nogales Wash between manhole 41 and 42. With the recent identification of a breach of the pipeline in the proximity of manhole 89, this constitutes an immediate danger to public health and may meet the criteria of a state of emergency under 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207.
On July 24, 2017 the City of Nogales Sewer Department discovered a relatively large section of the I.O.I. that had been exposed in the wash in the area of the 1700 block Hohokam Drive. They have taken immediate action by engaging AGE Construction to do some bank erosion work in an attempt to prevent the potential failure of the International Sewer Line by future flood waters, however it is clear that at this point federal assistance is necessary to fully contain the situation, adequately prevent further disaster and immediately protect public health.
As Governor, you also have the option to use a Pre-Disaster Emergency Declaration in advance or anticipation of the imminent impact of an incident that threatens such destruction as could result in a major disaster. I ask that you work immediately with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Regional Administrator to determine the most appropriate declaration for the State and move forward to protect Arizona residents.
Prior to the ban on earmarks, Grijalva worked each year since 2004 to secure funding for the Nogales Wash / Chula Vista and International Outflow Interceptor projects through the appropriations process. He requested $10 million for the project in fiscal year 2009 and $19.7 million in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. His Border Infrastructure and Jobs Act, first introduced in 2011, included an additional authorization of appropriations. Grijalva filed an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 to require the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission to provide resources for the Nogales Sanitation Project. This year Grijalva worked with Representative McSally on a bipartisan bill to clarify funding responsibility for the IOI. He has also sent numerous letters urging improvements to the IOI dating back to 2003.