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Our Opinion: Money well spent

August 30, 2001

The city of Calexico Redevelopment Agency recently made the decision to spend $150,000 on a cost-analysis for the cleaning, lining and covering of the New River. It's a costly move, but it appears to be a wise one.

To spend money on a measure to increase public safety and protect public health is a good idea and a proper use of RDA funds.

While it is a first step, all action to bring change has to start somewhere. We credit the Calexico City Council, which functions as the RDA board, for taking that first step. Often officials cannot simply wait for the state or federal government to make things happen, and we have been waiting on the feds to do something about the nasty New River for at least a half century.

The New River is a menace in that its water is filled with toxins that are harmful to people and wildlife. Calexico feels the negative effects of the river more than other cities in the Valley because of its proximity to Mexico, where the river starts. The river has a chance to aerate and be filtered, but naturally and artificially, as it heads north through the Valley. It is sensible to at least line and cover the river as it moves though Calexico.

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More so than ever we are seeing a focus on the New River and efforts to deal with its dangers. Farther down river are wetlands that have been built, largely through local effort, to catch the river water and settle out the materials in the water so that the water that flows from the wetlands is cleaner. Such local efforts can and will make a difference in the quality of life in the Imperial Valley.

The move to cover the New River would have another impact in that it would block the river as a route for illegal immigration. That in itself makes the project worthwhile, because it will save lives and lessen illegal immigration. And, in a strictly practical sense, if covering the river saves lives and cuts illegal immigration, it will save the county money.

Someday we would like it if we no longer had to write stories about the dangers of the New River. Anything that is done to make it safer is a good idea.

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