Aiding the Rio Sonora

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The heartland of the Southwest Folklife Alliance’s field school — Banámichi — paid a price this past year when a 125 year old mine experienced a spill that sprawled into the watershed of the Rio Sonora. Bill Steen, co-founder of The Canelo Project and a member of the Field School faculty, provides this update for BorderLore readers:

In August at least 60 million gallons of sulfuric acid copper leach solution filled with heavy metals and toxics poured from the Cananea open pit copper mine into the Rio Sonora. Over the next month and a half, heavy rains added to that contamination which also entered in lesser amounts into the San Pedro River. Government studies have been somewhat secretive, and contradictory information has been released on the state of groundwater contamination.

Rio Sonora Panorama
Rio Sonora panorama (photo by Bill Steen)

According to Bill, the lives of people, businesses, ranchers and farmers have all been detrimentally affected, and there is an urgent need to independently establish the amount of damage that has been done to the watershed and what remedial measures are needed. The whole situation is in limbo awaiting findings from a credible source.

Rio Son Vaqueros
Rio Son Vaqueros (photo by Bill Steen)

E-Tech International, a technical nonprofit directed by Dick Kamp (who has long been involved in border region technical studies and 10 years of binational water analyses in both rivers), is seeking to work with affected parties and mayors in the region, with Sonoran and U.S. investigators, to gather needed baseline data on the levels of contamination in surface and groundwater. An initial site visit is planned no later than March 2015. Funding is urgently needed to “kickstart” this effort. Tax-deductible donations, designated for this effort, may be made at, or through checks sent to E-Tech International, 231 Las Mananitas,Santa Fe, NM 87501. Emails of support also may be sent to Donations will be acknowledged with letters for IRS use. E-Tech’s phone contact: (505) 670 1337.

Rio Son Bacoachi Crossing
Rio Son Bacoachi Crossing (photo by Bill Steen)

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