US Warns Mexico Of Massive, Ongoing Sewage Spill Into Rio Grande: '150 Million Gallons Since August'

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Oct 01, 2021 - 01:20 AM

A major pipe rupture on the American side of the US-Mexico border is sending millions of gallons per day of raw sewage into the Rio Grande, International Boundary & Water Commission (IBWC) is warning this week. 

The agency formally notified Mexico authorities late this week, saying in a statement to the monitoring organization Border Report that "The water that is going into the Rio Grande is downstream of the location where Mexico gets the water under the (U.S.-Mexico) treaty. But, yes, sewage flows into the Rio Grande are entering the international reach of the river.

The El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border. Image source: The Architect's Newspaper

The IBWC estimated that between 3 million and 6 million gallons per day are flowing into the river which forms the natural boundary along the length of the southern Texas border. Broken pipes located in West El Paso have been leaking since Aug.15 - for a believed total of 150 million gallons of potentially toxic sewage polluting the Rio Grande. 

Crucially, some major downstream population centers in Mexico could be impacted by toxic water from the spillage. According to a local El Paso CBS affiliate

Sewage flows into rivers and other bodies of water can expose humans who wade or swim in them to dangerous pathogens and cause intestinal infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations.

The Rio Grande cuts across El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, a city of 1.5 million people; many migrants who approach the border wall to enter the United States surreptitiously first must cross the river.

El Paso water authorities have cited a 'cascade of failures' that ultimately contributed to the major leakage and spill. City Water President and CEO John E. Balliew said in a statement it's "corrosion driven" and described what led up the ongoing disaster as "not just one break" but "a series of breaks"

"The pipe is so badly corroded that we can’t fix it. When we go to fix it, we cause more damage than exists at present. So, we’re concentrating on replacement," he added. 

The city said this week it's only completed up to 60% of pipe replacement, so millions of gallons of sewage are expected to continue flowing into the Rio Grande. Meanwhile on the US side of the border there's concern that the polluted water may negatively impact vegetation, wetlands, and irrigation. It's just one more border disaster among many currently creating tensions for political leaders on each side of the border, also amid the recent Haitian immigrant camp crisis. US Border Patrol is also said to be monitoring the sewage leak situation in coordination with the IBWC.