Cross-Border Cleanup Helps Heal Polluted River

By Ruxandra Guidi
November 17, 2011

Photo by Ruxandra Guidi
An Environmental Protection Agency water quality expert tests the water flowing from Mexicali into Calexico, at the New River.

EL CENTRO, Calif. -- The New River flows from the south to the north, from Mexicali, Mexico to Calexico, California. It is so polluted, that just testing its water requires wearing protective masks and suits. Still, its toxicity was 10-times worse just three years ago.

Jared Blumenfeld of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the improvement came through a $42 million investment by the U.S. for wastewater treatment in Mexico.

"The issues that we're dealing with primarily, that cost the largest amounts of money, have gone to waste water treatments and collection systems," Blumenfeld said. "So it's recognizing that by giving infrastructure, support, and financing to Mexico, we help the environment in the United States."

The New River cleanup is one of many EPA projects in the Border 2012 plan, which shift resources to Mexico to improve air, soil, and water quality along the border, including the U.S. Side.