CALEXICO — After a decade of immense effort, the New River Project received $28 million in funding to begin the first phase of restoration said to bring public health safety and environmental justice to Calexico, Mexicali, and Baja California, at a press conference at the Women's Improvement Club in Calexico July 7.
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Senator Ben Hueso, along with California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld and his team, were welcomed to The City of Calexico by the Mayor of Calexico, Javier Moreno.
“We are incredibly proud, the Governor of California talks about this project with a huge amount of interest and affection because we are actually doing it, we are not talking about doing it, we aren't thinking about doing it, we are putting shovel to the ground, putting dollars in the bank and we are getting this done," stated California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld.
It was an evening of recognition to all the individuals who have collaborated in bringing justice to an environmental issue that is known to be one the most polluted rivers in the United States.
“It is so long overdue that Calexico receive the necessary resources to get this project on the way, we’ve been around for over 35 years and it is only around this time that our senators and assembly members have had a front row seat to be able to advocate for ourselves and I would want to thank them for their support,” stated Executive Director of Comite Civico del Valle Luis Olmedo.
Government Representatives from Baja California were present to show their appreciation in receiving these funds and commitment to the projects laying ahead.
“We can’t solve this without Mexicali being a part of this project, this is a small town of 40,000 people. We have a bigger city of a million plus being affected by the river. If you drive through Mexicali you smell the new river, it’s a pretty big issue for them day in and day out. These borders are arbitrary but the community is one,” expressed Blumenfeld.
Mónica Juliana Vega Aguirre Secretary of Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable in Baja California spoke on the importance of collaborating with California Governor Newsom to address this environmental issue.
“The work to be done needs to come from both sides of the border. The citizens from both sides of the border are our family, friends and neighbors and it's important for all of us to be doing this public service to protect the lives of this community,” emphasized Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
Every speaker at the conference highlighted gratitude to all individuals who made a collaborative effort to obtain these funds for the beginning phases of the New River and Tijuana River improvement project.
“The New River Project is divided in 3 phases. Phase number 1 involves a trash rack clean up that will prevent the water contamination, the second portion of the project is the encasement of the water, the third phase is where the water meets with the waste water treatment plant. what that does is it dilutes the contamination of the water from that point the water is going to be pumped out to continue with the stream of water all the way to the Salton Sea area,” explained Calexico City Manager, Esperanza Colio.
A check for $28 million from Senator Ben Hueso and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia was presented to The City of Calexico to begin the first phase of the project.
“This is a very important topic to the State of California hopefully with our success we can get some response from the Federal Government as well. We need the Federal Government to step up to the plate with a lot of the border issues and water issues here in Imperial County,” stated Senator Ben Hueso.