Rancher John Ladd has waited patiently for authorities to finally address the Mexican sewage spilling onto his ranch land. The sewage has been pouring into the U.S. since May and Mexican officials have either been unwilling or unable to stem the steady stream.
On Monday, Congresswoman Martha McSally surveyed the damage done from sewage flowing from Naco, Sonora (Mexico), to Naco, Arizona and down to Ladd’s ranch. On Tuesday, officials from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality showed up for the second time in days to survey the mess and met with Ladd.
While this summer’s sewage spill from Nogales, Mexico to Nogales, Arizona was addressed fairly quickly, by the International Water and Boundary Commission, the Naco spill has been ignored because the Commission denies that a treaty between the two countries covers Naco.
For years, other than McSally, Arizona’s politicians have neglected the concerns of the people along the border dealing with the smelly situation.
“Naco, Sonora has had this problem forever and there isn’t any control over there,” Ladd said in an interview on the James T. Harris radio show. “They have sewer lagoons that are higher in elevation than the town, but the sewers are outdated and too small. They have pumps that break down. They had a major breakdown at the end of May this year. Just a failure of their sewer system and they are broke and are depending on the International Boundary Commission to provide any money or expertise to fix it.”
|Did you know?|
The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has responsibility for applying the boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico and settling differences that may arise in their application. The IBWC, established in 1889, is an international body composed of the United States Section and the Mexican Section, each headed by an Engineer-Commissioner appointed by his/her respective president. Each Section is administered independently of the other.
The United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) is a federal government agency and is headquartered in El Paso, Texas. The IBWC operates under the foreign policy guidance of the Department of State. The Mexican Section is under the administrative supervision of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is headquartered in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
“They knocked a hole in one of their manholes on the bottom end of their sewer system which is right at the border at the international boundary and it is free running at about 50 gallons a minute. It runs down into an arroyo (natural canal) coming from Mexico into the U.S. and that stream is bigger than the San Pedro River right now.”
“That sewer flow goes through four property owners before it gets to our ranch and then it just ponds up on our ranch.”
“I don’t want raw sewage on my ranch,” said the unassuming Ladd.
Ladd owns a cattle ranch spanning ten and a half miles along the Arizona-Mexico border. The Ladd ranch was started 120 years ago, and John is a 4th generation rancher.
This has been an ongoing event my whole life, but this is the worst it’s been for four months solid. It’s been running solid 50 gallons a minute day in and day out for four months,” said Ladd.
Harris asked Ladd what kind of response they have gotten from the Mexican government. “Well nothing responded Ladd. They didn’t report it. The Boundary Commission knows about it now and I have talked to them out of Nogales. They sent a replacement pump, but it isn’t working yet. ADEQ came down about ten days ago and they were back today.”
Ladd said in a resigned tone, “If we want to stop the sewage from coming into the U.S. we have to pay to fix it. That’s the bottom line.”
The ranchers along the border on the U.S. side are known for their conservation efforts. From protecting the San Pedro River, to cleaning up after human smugglers and the drug cartels, the ranchers are staunch stewards of the land. Harris asked Ladd if that same care is on display in Mexico. “There are some Mexican ranchers that have that same philosophy but in general they are quite a few years behind us on what they need to do to take care of their sewage and environment. You know Naco, Sonora still has a garbage dump they burn.”
“When they burn their dump, we have in there alert and everything, but it’s OK” said Ladd with a sardonic laugh, “because it’s on the other side of the border. Its Mexico and we don’t have any control over that.”
In July, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency following the rupture of a sewage conveyance pipeline near Nogales, Arizona, reported the Arizona Daily Independent (ADI). The emergency declaration followed similar declarations from Santa Cruz County and the City of Nogales.