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Calexico could see $150,000 price tag for financing study


May 21, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — It will probably cost more than $50 million to clean a section of the New River from the border to Highway 98.

It could cost Calexico $150,000 to find out if financing the project is even possible.

Seattle-based R.W. Beck Inc. approached the Calexico Redevelopment Agency last week and asked for $150,000 to fund a study that would determine if the 40-year-old goal of a cleaner New River is plausible.

This morning a Beck representative said if the City Council, seated as the RDA board, decides to work with Beck the $150,000 would be charged only if the project is viable.

"The money would not be touched until we ran a complete analysis," according to Richard Zaragoza, a director of program management services for Beck's Southern California office.


R.W. Beck Inc. is a corporation of independent engineers that works with multi-lateral banks in finding alternative funding for civic and nature-based operations.

"If we see the project can't be completed, then we'll tell the city. We don't want to use the client's money if nothing can be done," Zaragoza said.

The first step in Beck's plan is to find out if it can secure the permits and rights to work on the river.

Because the river flows into the Salton Sea, it falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army's Corps of Engineers as "navigable waters."

If Beck determines it can secure the permits from the corps, the next part of the plan involves rounding up the funds.

Zaragoza said Beck would solicit "humanitarian loans" from large corporations or banks. Such loans are generally tax write-offs for the companies and generate good publicity as well, he added.

"The loans don't have to be paid off because the money is for the betterment of the environment," Zaragoza said.

After securing funding, Beck would work with engineers to develop an implementation plan that would define exactly what sort of work would be done and in what time frame.

Some of the possible cleanup solutions included in the plan include lining and covering a section of the river, channeling river water into evaporation ponds, stopping the flow of trash at the border and installing a waterfall system to aerate the water.

City Attorney Michael Rood said today he will be looking over Beck's proposal this week.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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