New River, Imperial County Public Health Assessment

Timeframe: 1998 to 2010

The New River flows from the Colorado River in Baja California Norte, Mexico, into the United States through the Imperial Valley and drains into the Salton Sea. Industrial waste and raw sewage are dumped into the river on the Mexican side of the border and are carried into the United States.At the request of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, IAI researchers conducted  an evaluation of the New River and its impact on the public health of the surrounding communities. Working with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Impact Assessment prepared a health consultation based on community interviews, site assessment, and a review of existing environmental data. IAI worked with bi-national environmental monitoring programs to evaluate potential health effects from exposure to the New River water, sediments, and fish.  In an effort to identify recent exposures and their health impacts for surrounding communities, IAI prepared a total of four health consultations. IAI identified a number of contaminants that presented a public health risk.  In addition, we found that New River fish were a health risk to children and/or frequent adult sport fishers. As a result, CDPH  recommended that the public avoid contact with and ingestion of New River water sediments and limit the consumption of sport fish from New River.