A week after declaring a state of emergency, Gov. Doug Ducey activated the state’s National Guard to help local and federal authorities in Santa Cruz County working to repair a rupture to a binational sewage line just north of Nogales.
Heavy monsoon rains last week caused the leak at the International Outfall Interceptor, spilling thousands of gallons of wastewater into a wash that feeds into the Santa Cruz River.
The pipeline carries sewage from Nogales, Sonora, and Nogales, Arizona, to a treatment plant nine miles north of the border in Rio Rico.
Testing found high levels of E. coli in water sources near the wash, prompting a warning from health officials and Ducey’s emergency declaration on July 27.
The National Guard’s deployment is an amendment to the original declaration, which freed up $200,000 in state funds to deal with the rupture.
The U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, which operates the pipeline and had previously denied the existence of a leak, also set aside $300,000 for emergency work on the interceptor.
On Wednesday, construction crews under contract with the commission completed the installation of a temporary pipeline that diverts the flow of wastewater from the ruptured area.
It stopped the discharge of wastewater into the Nogales Wash, and will allow crews to begin repairs on the pipeline. But that could take a bit longer, according to local officials.
“They’re still working on plan to fix the actual IOI,” said Jeff Terrell, health services director for Santa Cruz County.
“They haven’t concluded how they’re going to do it because of the water…
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