Guillermo Padrés Elías, governor of Sonora,

Guillermo Padrés Elías, governor of Sonora, speaks during a ribbon-cutting event last Thursday at the Los Alisos Wastewater Treatment Plant in Nogales, Sonora.

Officials in Nogales, Sonora cut the ribbon last week on the new Los Alisos Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has the initial capacity to treat 5 million gallons of sewer water a day.

In addition to taking some of the pressure off the Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant in Rio Rico, the project is designed to allow the city of Nogales, Sonora to provide treated water to more of its homes and neighborhoods.

“This helps so that they have water in the colonias,” Sonora Governor Guillermo Padrés Elías said during the inauguration ceremony last Thursday. “It’s a system and process that allows us to take a qualitative step to make Nogales a model at the state and national level, and in Latin America.”

The $19.3 million project included the construction of the treatment plant in the Los Alisos Basin, as well as the installation of a conveyance system with pump station.

The North American Development Bank (NADB) provided a $3.24 million loan to help finance construction of the treatment plant, as well as an $8 million grant that was applied toward the construction of the Estadio pump station and a 10-mile long gravity main. The remaining project funds were provided by the Mexican National Water Commission (CONAGUA) and the Sonora state government.

“With this vital project, Nogales is addressing wastewater treatment needs that have steadily increased as a result of population growth in the region,” Alex Hinojosa, NADB deputy managing director, said in a news release. “Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the governments of Mexico and the United States, the Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant (NIWWTP) in Rio Rico, Arizona, will no longer be called upon to handle excess sewage flows from Mexico.”

Some of the wastewater collected in Nogales, Sonora, is conveyed 8.7 miles north of the border to the NIWWTP, which has the capacity to treat up to 14.7 million gallons a day (mgd) of flows. Of that amount, 9.9 mgd is allotted to Mexico. However, prior to the construction of the Los Alisos plant, the NIWWTP was receiving average wastewater flows of 12.5 mgd from Mexico, which could cause stress in the treatment system during peak demand.

The Los Alisos plant will also feature an on-site photovoltaic solar plant with an installed peak capacity of 902 kW. It is designed to connect to the Mexican grid through an existing distribution line and supply all the electricity needs of the plant.

“Los Alisos is the first wastewater treatment plant in Mexico, and probably among the first in Latin America, to generate its own electricity from solar energy,” said BECC General Manager Maria Elena Giner, general manager of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission.

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