In our stretch of the Rio Grande near Laredo, levels of bacteria — fecal coliform and its more dangerous substrain, E. coli — remain astronomically high.
Most pathogens come from the fecal matter of humans and animals. This health hazard could lead to a major epidemic along the border. Downstream farmers irrigate crops with water pumped directly from the river.
The lack of political will by the United States and Mexico to deal with this problem has been a source of shame and embarrassment for our community for far too long.
The International Boundary & Water Commission will re-open a Laredo satellite in May. I urge the commission to prioritize this issue.
Water was precious to my family when I was growing up. I would watch my father as he chose a spot just far enough and dug just deep enough from local streams to let the sands filter some water before letting us taking a sip from his hands.
I don’t think my father would have been filtering the kinds of contaminants we see in the waters of the Rio Grande nowadays. In all fairness, we do have water treatment systems but Tricia points out the following:
The Texas Clean Rivers Program has released preliminary results from its Laredo Bacteria Study. In 2011, they analyzed samples from 40 sites along 27 miles of river between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.
Results are shocking.
When the river hits Laredo and curves toward the downtown international bridges, fecal coliform shoots off the charts. Following close behind is E. coli.
At Bridge II, fecal coliforms hit 14,200 colonies per 100 ml. E. coli levels exceed 2,400 colonies/100 ml.
Yes, I drink tap water. Yes, I have even swallowed quite a bit of Rio Grande water (fue accidente pero… ni modo, paso). And yes, I do care about the future of our endangered river that sustains us. IBWC (International Boundary & Water Commission), the question about action has been posed, what next?