Calexico, California - Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) and the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee held an oversight hearing today in Calexico, which focused on California's role in managing the recovery efforts of the New River.  The hearing is part of the Assembly's investigation into binational river water quality issues as well as ensuring border communities, especially disadvantaged communities, are not left behind in water quality restoration efforts.

“While the New River plan is a good starting point, it’s time for California to take significant action to improve the serious pollution problems that face the New River.” states Alejo. “We must do more to partner with Mexico to reduce the large amounts of waste and runoff in the New River that are impacting the very fabric of life in the Imperial Valley."

Discharges into the New River from urban, agricultural and industrial sources in both Mexico and the United States threaten public health, the environment and the local economy.  Despite efforts on both sides of the border to improve the quality of the New River, it remains one of the most severely polluted rivers in the country.

“California’s Assemblymembers Luis Alejo and Eduardo Garcia have placed disadvantaged communities front and center,” said Luis Olmedo, Executive Director of Comite Civico Del Valle, Inc. “The New River serves as a corridor for illegal importation of industrial waste and municipal sewage. It is critical that the New River be revitalized to promote economic development, tourism, recreation and improve public health outcomes for Imperial County communities. The legislative attention being brought to Calexico represents a beacon of hope.”

“The residents of Calexico have struggled for decades to bring statewide attention to the public health threats posed by the New River,” states Araceli Saucedo, the Executive Director of the Calexico New River Committee. “We greatly appreciate that the California Legislature is taking the time to learn more about the unique environmental challenges facing California’s border communities, and we welcome the Committee members to Imperial County.”

“It's unacceptable that the New River remains impaired under the Clean Water Act for nearly a dozen pollutants, including pathogens,” states Alejo. “Part of the solution is finding a means for California to partner with and help fund projects in Mexico that will improve the quality of the New River in both countries.”  

Assemblymember Alejo and the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee held another hearing yesterday in Imperial Beach on the progress and challenges facing the Tijuana River recovery strategy.