Santa Cruz County has received the test results from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Initial ADEQ samples found levels of E. coli bacteria that exceeded recommended levels, both below and above the partial breach. Further sampling is being conducted with results still pending.
In response to the initial test results, Santa Cruz County Health Services and the Arizona Department of Health Services is advising the public to stay out of the Nogales Wash and the Santa Cruz River. Even in the absence of untreated wastewater, stormflows are typically high in pollutants that can be harmful to human health such as bacteria and pathogens. Water near and downstream of the International Outfall Interceptor (IOI) partial breach is of particular concern and should be avoided.
Santa Cruz County Health Services is also recommending to those who own a private well within 100 ft. of the waterway to have their well tested for contamination.
Based on the initial water quality results and the Declaration of Emergency by the City of Nogales, Santa Cruz County has also signed a Declaration of Emergency and submitted to the Governor’s Office. Subsequently, the Governor’s Office has declared a State of Emergency in Santa Cruz County in response to the IOI partial breach.
The Department of Agriculture shares the concerns of livestock owners and farmers in the region. Until there is more information about the extent of the situation, it is recommend not using water from the Santa Cruz River to water food crops or gardens. Livestock should not be in the river or drinking from it.
Stakeholders have been updated to the current status and are analyzing potential courses of action to mitigate and stabilize the partial breach of the IOI. With the forecast of monsoon storms anticipated for the next several days we are taking full advantage of the current conditions to gather the needed information to determine the best course of action moving forward.
A hotline has been established for public and media inquiries between 7am and 7pm by calling 520-375-7784. Updates will also be posted on the County Facebook page, Santa Cruz County, Arizona and Twitter page @santacruzaz and the county website at www.santacruzcountyaz