Senator Kelly Announces Major Investments in Southern Arizona Wastewater Projects

Today, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly announced that Nogales and Patagonia will receive $2.8 million and $500,000 grants, respectively, for wastewater projects that will prevent pipeline and treatment plant failures and protect local communities from the unsafe discharge of wastewater. The periodic discharges of wastewater into communities in Santa Cruz County poses a serious health risk to residents, and has been harmful to the economy.

“I’ve been a strong advocate for support of these projects, including through our recently signed bipartisan infrastructure law, and am glad to see investments coming to communities that need it most,” said Senator Kelly. “Southern Arizona, and our border communities specifically, have unique needs when it comes to managing wastewater. This new funding will be critical in updating systems that have fallen into disrepair.”

“Santa Cruz County is grateful for Senator Kelly’s and Sinema’s advocacy to deliver funding for the IOI project. Upgrades to the IOI are sorely needed, and the funding will help our County tackle wastewater challenges that affect the well-being of our community and the continued viability of our economy. We appreciate the Senators’ continued partnership on this important project,” said Rudy Molera, Santa Cruz County Supervisor.

“The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality appreciates this critical investment in Arizona,” said ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera. “It supports a portion of our overall rehabilitation plan for the international outfall interceptor to protect public health and the environment in the Arizona border region.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will fund a $2.8-million grant from the Border Environment Infrastructure Fund, administered by the North American Development Bank (NADB), for improvements to the International Outfall Interceptor (IOI) related to the relocation of lateral connections and erosion protection in Nogales, Arizona. Reducing the risk of pipeline failures in the IOI will prevent the potential discharge of approximately 15.2 million gallons per day of wastewater to the Nogales Wash.

Additionally, the Town of Patagonia will receive a $500,000 grant through the NADB Community Assistance Program for improvements to its wastewater treatment plant that provides sufficient capacity for the volume of current and future wastewater flows. The project will eliminate the risks for inconsistent treatment or plant failure by replacing some plant equipment that needs upgrades and repairing structural issues that compromise the treatment process, thereby preventing the potential discharge of approximately 45,000 gallons per day of wastewater to Sonoita Creek, a tributary of Patagonia Lake.

During his first month in office, Kelly secured key funding for the EPA Border Water Infrastructure Grant Program in the FY 2021 spending bill. Additionally, Kelly played a crucial role in shaping the drinking and wastewater provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law which included $280 million per year for Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants specifically aimed at border communities’ to help with overdue wastewater treatment projects. Kelly also secured dedicated funding to begin efforts to rehabilitate the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, AZ, which has experienced periodic shutdowns due to wastewater pipeline failures from the IOI located directly below it.