Nogales city leaders look to International Boundary and Water Commission for flooding solutions

The Nogales wash starting to erode a street in the city.
Posted at 10:56 AM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-16 14:52:42-04

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN) — The city of Nogales has dealt with flooding due to monsoon storms, and city officials look to the International Boundary and Water Commission for help.

“The amount of water that’s coming, the channel that exists right now can’t handle it,” said Nogales Deputy City Manager, John Kissinger.

The Nogales Wash is starting to erode North Hohokam Drive across from little league parks and soccer fields.

“It’s kind of frustrating because this is one of our main streets our two little league parks are right here our soccer leagues are right here and parks and rec. is right there so if this street goes down, it’s going to really affect this community,” said Nogales Councilman, Saulo Bonilla.

Kissinger has been working for the city for 40 years.

“This has been the worst season that I’ve seen for many years. Just the amount of flood water that’s coming in at a short period of time is very overwhelming,” Kissinger said.

Nogales leaders said this issue expands beyond the city.

“It’s not an issue that the city of Nogales can control. This is a federal issue that needs federal attention,” said Kissinger.

Ideally, Kissinger said the International Boundary and Water Commission would step in to help find solutions coming from Mexico into the United States.

“What we’re asking them to do is to partner with Mexico and their equivalent in Mexico to look at putting in some type of infrastructure, give them technical assistance, funding assistance in putting infrastructure in Mexico that will slow down and release storm water slowly,” Kissinger said.

Concerns about the sewage pipeline that runs underneath the Nogales Wash is also on the top of the city’s mind.

“The International Outfall Interceptor runs on the bottom of this wash that carries 18 million gallons of raw sewage from Mexico,” said Bonilla. “If we don’t get this water under control and it bursts, can you imagine 18 million gallons spewing out?”

With Nogales being a major transportation hub between Mexico and the United States, Chairman of Greater Nogales Santa Cruz Port Authority, Jaime Chamberlain, said a remodel for the downtown port of entry was necessary.

“The issue of the floodwaters that come in right underneath the port of entry right now; so every time it floods this way, our agents are at risk with what they’re smelling and those waters around them, so that’s something that’s going to be very beneficial with a brand new port of entry,” said Chamberlain.

As for the Nogales Wash eroding a major street in the city- that’s on pause for now.

“We had a meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers, and they gave us emergency permits so you guys can fix it, however, it came to a halt because we now need to wait for an environmental impact report,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla added that the environmental impact report is conducted by the federal government and most likely won’t be able to be done until after monsoon season.

Faith Abercrombie is a reporter for KGUN 9. Before coming to KGUN, Faith worked as a videographer for the Phoenix Children's Hospital Foundation and as a reporter and producer on the youth suicide documentary, "Life is..." on Arizona PBS.
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