On June 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva to direct $4 million within the International Border and Water Commission (IBWC) to clarify the responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the International Outfall Interceptor (IOI) in Southern Arizona. The IOI pipeline is approximately 8.5 miles long and transports wastewater from Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona to the Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“Due to the aging infrastructure and neglected repairs of the IOI, the people of Southern Arizona live under the constant threat of water contamination,” said Rep. Grijalva. “By clarifying responsibility with this amendment, the IBWC would finally be able to move forward with the necessary repairs, fix this problem once and for all, and ensure that we have a real solution to protect the public health of the people along the U.S.-Mexico border.”
Under a 1944 water utilization treaty, Mexico can treat water in the United States. The International Border and Water Commission is tasked with managing international infrastructure negotiations and jointly operates the Nogales International Sanitation Project. The IBWC has an existing $21 million to repair the IOI, and Rep. Grijalva’s amendment directs an additional $4 million within the International Border and Water Commission to clarify the responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the IOI.
“I’m proud of the stakeholders, advocates, and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have worked on this issue for decades and helped fight to safeguard the public health of Nogales residents,” continued Rep. Grijalva. “Now the Senate must act to ensure this funding dedicated to the purpose of clarifying responsibility for the IOI is included in any funding bill they pass.”
In addition to the amendment, Rep. Grijalva introduced the Nogales Wastewater Fairness Act to clarify the issue of responsibility of the IOI. U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
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