CALEXICO — The California Environmental Protection Agency, along with Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, conducted a New River Community Update meeting Thursday, November 19, via zoom, where the New River Strategic Plan was detailed.
“The New River remains one of the top priorities,” said Chairman of Water Parks and Wildlife Committee Eduardo Garcia.
As per city officials, on October 30 of 2017, the County of Imperial, the Imperial Irrigation District, and the City of Calexico signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) detailing the partnership among the agencies to move forward and collaborate in an effort to remediate the negative impacts the New River has in the community.
“This effort has allowed for the State of California to place the trust at the local level through the County of Imperial, the Imperial Irrigation District, and the City of Calexico to be working directly with the California Department of Water Resources,” said Calexico City Manager Miguel Figueroa.
Assembly Bill 1079 was signed into law by former Governor Arnold Shwarzenegger October 11, 2009.
“As a result of this effort, we were able to create a pathway where we could establish, through a technical advisory committee, a group of leaders from our community that would eventually be tasked with developing and presenting the New River Strategic Plan,” said Figueroa.
Figueroa said the processes utilized at the Technical Advisory Committee included four working groups: an impairments work group, a remediation work group, a visioning work group, and a funding and background work group. All work groups were said to have developed and presented a report that eventually became merged and resulted in the strategic plan.
According to Figueroa, the overall vision of the plan is to address the ongoing, environmental, and water quality issues that impact the community — both from a health and economic perspective. The plan-vision encompasses the New River as it begins and flows north from Mexicali into Calexico, to the Salton Sea.
The Calexico New River Parkway plan was proposed among the improvement projects that are identified in the strategic plan.
“What we’re looking at here for the Parkway is to work and create the infrastructure improvements that are needed from the border fence all the way to the All-American Canal syphon that will turn south of the Second Street bridge,” said Figueroa.
The location for the three infrastructure components from the Second Street bridge to the All-American Canal syphon is anticipated to include a state-of-the-art park.
“We were able to secure, through the passage of AB 1079, the matching funds that we had secured from the Department of Transportation to have not only a parkway, but a parkway that has bike paths that can create opportunities for our community to enjoy these amenities,” said Figueroa.
As per city officials, $2 million has been spent on the preliminary engineering and planning of the Parkway Project.
“We have $2 million left, which we are going to be using build and construct Phase 1(B). Currently, the City of Calexico is working on the procurement process for the construction phase of Phase 1(B),” said Figueroa. “We’re gonna have a trash-screen diversion structure — automated and able to remove domestic trash once a day — that comes in from Mexicali through the New River.”
A bypass encasement projected to commence at the international boundary will reportedly have its outfall east of the All-American Canal syphon.
“We will also have a pump-back system that will be able to have the clean water running through the existing waterway of our parkway,” said Figueroa. “At this point right now, we have the regulatory permitting that is pending.”
City officials provided a summary table of the probable cost for each of the three components projected south of the Second Street bridge: Bypass Encasement ($15 million), Pump Back System ($5 million), and Trash Screen and Diversion Structure ($7 million).