Gabriel of Urantia

Local Youth Celebrate the Santa Cruz River in the Seventh Annual Celebrate The River Student Art Contest

The seventh annual Celebrate the Santa Cruz River Student Art Contest was held on Friday, May 19th, 2017, at the Americana Hotel in Nogales.

Hosted by Friends of the Santa Cruz River and sponsored by Global Community Communications Alliance, students from ten local schools are submitting art on the theme: "OUR WONDERFUL WATERSHED". Schools participating in this year's art contest were:

  • Montessori de Santa Cruz (in Tubac)
  • Global Community Communications Schools for Teens and Children (in Tumacacori)
  • Mexicayotl Academy (in Nogales)
  • Desert Shadows Middle School (in Nogales)
  • Wade Carpenter Middle Academy (in Nogales)
  • Mary L. Welty Elementary (in Nogales)
  • Lincoln Elementary School (in Nogales)
  • Bracker Elementary School (in Nogales)
  • A.J. Mitchell Elementary School (in Nogales)
  • Fco. Vasquez de Coronado Elementary (in Nogales)

Members of Friends of the Santa Cruz River, and students from Global Community Communications Schools for Teens and Children, have given presentations to over 2,000 students on the art contest theme. By combining science and art, students participating in the contest learn about the wildlife and plants in the rare cottonwood-willow gallery forest that thrives in the riparian zone that is the life-blood of the Santa Cruz Valley.

A reception for the art contest display, presentations by local youth, and awards for winners of the art contest was given on Friday, May 19th from 6:30 — 8:30 pm at the Americana Hotel - 639 N. Grand Ave. Nogales, AZ. Many families and teachers came to the reception, and to view the wonderful art created by local youth.

The Art Contest display continued through May 22 at the Americana Hotel. The student art was viewed at "The Little Gallery at the Americana".

Here is some of the winning art from this years contest:

"Visions of Santa Cruz River". 1st place in the 5-8 age group. By Bracker Kindergarten.

"Humming Bird in the Santa Cruz Sunset". 1st place in the 9-11 age group. By Sympleahtae Raymond from Global Community Communications Schools.

"Extinction is Forever". 1st place in the 12+ age group. By Karina Torres from Wade Carpenter.

"Flirting With Disaster" Film Puts Spotlight on a Looming Public Health Threat in Nogales, Arizona

Every storm that hits Nogales, AZ puts pressure on the deteriorating, leaky sewage pipe that carries more than 14 million gallons of sewage daily, mostly from Mexico, right through the small city of Nogales, AZ to the Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant (NIWTP) in Rio Rico, AZ.

This pipe, the International Outfall Interceptor (IOI), was constructed in 1971. Its path to the NIWTP lies mostly under the Nogales Wash. It is protected from erosive flood flows only by the concrete-lined floor of the Wash and several feet of dirt. Only about half of the original IOI pipe thickness remains due to over 40 years of wear and tear.

Because of upstream urbanization and its deteriorated condition, the IOI is in danger of becoming exposed and bursting every year during heavy summer monsoon flood flows in the Nogales Wash. Additionally, the IOI continues to leak raw sewage into the groundwater aquifer system that provides drinking water for most of the community.

The Nogales Wash channel and the IOI have outlived their useful life and capacity. A failure of either could have devastating impacts on property and public health. In addition, habitat for the newly returned Gila topminnow, an endangered species, could be compromised just as this native fish is being reestablished in its native Santa Cruz River into which the Nogales Wash flows.

A photo of the wash in Nogales, Arizona.

Friends of the Santa Cruz River commissioned a short video documenting the IOI problem to inform as many people as possible and to create a unified voice to urge federal decision makers to fund a proper repair for this failing infrastructure complex.

Federal legislation to remove financial responsibility for IOI repair from the City of Nogales, AZ has not progressed in the legislature and there are currently no introduced bills to actually fund needed repairs.

Friends of the Santa Cruz River is hoping pressure from the local government and community members will secure federal funding for the International Boundary and Water Commission, (which runs the NIWTP and oversees environmental infrastructure along the border) to repair the line with a plastic sleeve.

There are bigger issues that also need to be addressed, including the need for more and bigger retention basins and other water harvesting methods in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to reduce peak flood flows in the Wash. In order to protect the region from the potentially devastating pollution caused by a burst IOI during a big flood, a more permanent solution than the plastic sleeve in the IOI is needed. In order to find a solution that serves the entire watershed, extensive research will have to be done but the plastic sleeve repair of the IOI is a good place to start.