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Maldonado lauds RDA for funding New River pipeline study

August 17, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Rudy Maldonado, chairman of the Calexico New River Committee, applauded the $150,000 agreement the Calexico Redevelopment Agency entered into with Seattle-based R.W. Beck Inc. for a cost analysis of a plan to clean and cover the toxic waters of the New River.

"I think it was a giant step in the right direction for the people they represent and the future of Calexico," the Imperial Irrigation District's Division 5 Director said.

Recently the City Council, seated as the RDA board, voted unanimously to pay Beck $150,000 to put together the cost analysis of a $50-60 million plan to clean, line and cover the river from the border to Highway 98.

Beck is a nationwide collection of independent engineers that works with multi-lateral lending institutions to find alternative funding for civic projects.

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Maldonado said the 11-person New River Committee, working on behalf of the city, consciously decided to collaborate with a company such as Beck after earlier efforts to lobby politicos in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento for financial help were unsuccessful.

Maldonado said, "From what I understand there was a lot of frustration. Imperial Valley representatives made one attempt after another for the past 30 to 40 years. They would return from Washington, D.C., where they were promised a resolution and nothing ever happened.

"We pursued a different course."

As per Beck's agreement with the RDA, the Seattle-based company's San Diego office will submit the cost analysis of the New River lining and covering project to a humanitarian lending agency by Sept. 21.

Maldonado said Beck has finished most of the work but still has to complete "the geo-tech work."

That work will involve testing the status of the flood plain by taking soil samples.

"From there we're getting the hard numbers to identify the (specifics) of the cost," Maldonado said.

The New River lining and covering concept is the most significant facet of the project, he added.

Whereas some solutions have focused on trying to clean the river water or on crafting binational agreements that focus on how the river gets fouled, Beck's lining proposal would be unique because of its comparatively limited scope and the potential benefits to the city, according to Maldonado.

"The most important part is that people have been promised a solution for four of five decades. We feel our efforts would allow us to enjoy the flood plain by creating parks and recreation areas," he said.

While the exact nature of the project isn't finalized, Maldonado said one of the goals of the committee is the creation of park land in the western section of Calexico, which some locals say gets overlooked in comparison to the city's east side.

Another goal concerns the construction that will need to be done on the flood plain.

"Our goal is to insure that if this funding is given; almost every penny stays in the Imperial Valley," Maldonado said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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