Source of SD County Drinking Water Flows a Deadly Course

SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego offices of the ACLU, American Friends Service Committee, Citizens for All American Canal Safety and filmmaker John Carlos Frey will hold a press conference at the San Diego County Water Authority on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 11:00 AM. The press conference will draw attention to the 17 victims who have drowned in the All American Canal—a source of San Diego County drinking water—since the SDCWA was alerted to the dangers of the canal in August of 2008. The human rights advocates will encourage San Diego county residents to call the SDCWA and demand safety features be implemented immediately.

More than a year ago, in August, 2008, the president of the board of directors of the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) sent a letter to the president of the SDCWA urging the addition of safety features in the newly relined, 23-mile segment of the All American Canal. According to the IID, the relining project, funded by San Diego County, made the sides of the canal steeper and the water flow faster. Halla Razak, manager of the SDCWA’s Colorado River Program, acknowledged the increased dangers of the canal, “Once you’re in there, the water is cold, the currents are fast and it is very difficult to get out.”

“Nearly 600 individuals, mostly migrants from Mexico, have drowned in the All American Canal,” stated filmmaker John Carlos Frey. “Since August 5, 2008 seventeen more people have drowned. Both the SDCWA and the IID do not seem to believe the systematic drownings require urgent attention.” Both the SDCWA and the IID are currently scheduled to test modified safety features that are primarily designed to deter illegal immigration—not urgently save lives. The SDCWA along with Mexican Consulate has instituted public service announcements to warn people of the dangerous canal—an effort that has no proven efficacy. To date no new safety features have been added to the Canal and there is no scheduled date or plan as to when the Canal will be made safe.

The San Diego offices of the ACLU, American Friends Service Committee, Citizens for All American Canal Safety and filmmaker John Carlos Frey believe the canal must be made safe immediately. Death must be prevented at all costs. On September 30, 2009, the /wp-content/uploads/article/Humanitarian Crisis Report – web version.pdf”>Humanitarian Crisis Report – web version.pdf