Google Image from November, 2018.

EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved, at their regularly scheduled board meeting, Tuesday, September 10, to adopt and extend the proclamation of a local emergency for an active mud pot located five miles northwest of Niland.

J. Shawn Rizzutto presented the current conditions of the mud pot and the Caltrans contingency plans.

According to Rizzutto, it was recorded that the mud pot moved 17 feet per year from 1953-2005. The mud pot was stationary from 2005-2016, but was then recorded to have moved 100 feet per year from 2016-2018.  

“This is the only moving mud pot in the world. It’s very unique because of the significant amount of water,” said Rizzutto.

The mud pot is continually moving toward Highway 111 and towards the Salton Sea, according to Rizzutto. He explained the safety of the traveling public is the main priority when approaching the mud pot.

Rizzuto explained that a detour for Highway 111 would eventually be implemented. However, the detour is not scheduled until it is absolutely necessary to continue addressing issues with the mud pot.

The current Caltrans contingency plan includes a detour for Highway 86, the installation of retaining wall with subsurface drainage under Highway 111, and construction of a detour bridge for the Highway 111 alignment, allowing the mud pot to move past the Highway. After the mud pot has passed, reconstruction to Highway 111 will begin.

The sheet pile walls will take approximately 15 days to install, and will be done under one-way traffic control, according to Rizzutto.

“We’re always committed to being proactive instead of reactive,” said Rizzutto.

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