Nogales, Arizona, Charged Unfairly For Wastewater Treatment, City Says

By Chloe Jones
Published: Saturday, May 18, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - 11:20am
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The city of Nogales, Arizona, feels it is shouldering too much of the sewage treatment costs shared with the Mexican city of Nogales, just across the border. A 1944 treaty between the U.S. and Mexico divides treatment costs among the two countries and a federal agency. 

The International Boundary and Water Commission currently charges the city of Nogales, Arizona, 23 percent of treatment costs, although the city is responsible for only 8 percent of the sewage treated at the plant.

John Kissinger is the deputy city manager for Nogales. He says what the border city is being charged is unfair, but only the federal government has the power to change it.

“It's not one country’s fault more than another country's fault. You know, it doesn't make a difference. The sewage is going to come either way. We can, we can blame each other all we want, but it's coming,” Kissinger said. 

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is planning to introduce legislation, called the Nogales Fairness Act, to address the disparity.

“They're the ones who by treaty receive, convey and treat Mexican sewage, not us. By law, we can't. The only ones who can have an arrangements and agreements with a foreign country is the federal government,” Kissinger said. 

A draft of the proposed legislation calls for the costs of treatment in the plant and repairs of the binational pipeline to be dispersed fairly.