State lawmakers urge Congress to act on Nogales sewage issue

State lawmakers urge Congress to act on Nogales sewage issue
(Source: KOLD News 13)

NOGALES, AZ (Tucson News Now) - State lawmakers are urging Congress to act on the Nogales sewage issue.

Nearly 30 lawmakers rallied behind a concurrent memorial that pushes for the Nogales Wastewater Fairness Act.

The legislation would help the city of Nogales avoid paying millions of dollars to repair or replace a problematic sewage line.

The city has made it clear that it does not have the resources to fix the issue and said it's something the International Boundary and Water Commission should take care of. The federal agency is tasked with cross-border water issues.

Meanwhile, local environmentalists are frustrated with the back and forth and say a solution needs to be in place as we approach monsoon season.

In the past, heavy rainfall has caused the pipe to burst sending thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the Nogales Wash which then is dumped into the Santa Cruz River.

"We really need federal attention to this," said Sherry Sass, with the Friends of the Santa Cruz River. "The state can't do it. The city certainly can't do it. And the first step is to just get this pipe to officially belong to the IBWC and then at least the process can start."

Sass said Nogales residents deserve a solution before summer rains cause another break.

"I think that the people there really feel like they're kind being abandoned to this recurrent problem and that if this was Phoenix this would never be allowed to continue the way it has," she said.

The memorial was heard by a committee last week and will continue through a lengthy process before making its way to Washington. While it carries no weight, the sponsor hopes it reopens up the discussion about the issue.

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