1-PAGER – 2 New Condemnations on PF225 Fence Segments in El Paso Sector
BACKGROUND: The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) owns the land upon which levee has been constructed in El Paso and Hudspeth Counties. IBWC has decreed that they need to preserve a sixteen-foot-wide crest atop that levee – this is to accommodate equipment used in emergency storm events for ‘flood-fighting’. SBI-TI had planned to construct a floating fence atop the levee, meaning that the foundation rest on the ground rather than be anchored into it. In doing so, the fence footprint would consume four feet, leaving only twelve to fourteen feet clearance for IBWC’s levee crest road. IMPACT: In order to bring the fence down off the levee crest to comply with IBWC’s mandate, it must be constructed to the north as fence cannot be constructed in the floodplain. The property owner to the immediate north of the levee in El Paso County (fence segments K-2C, K-2D & K-3) is the El Paso County Water Improvement District #1 (EPCWID), and in Hudspeth County (K-4 & K-5) it is the Hudspeth County Water Reclamation and Conservation District (HCWRCD). In some cases, there is no room between the north toe of the levee and the adjacent irrigation canal to construct fence, so it must be constructed along a road north of that canal – and in some cases along a road north of another adjacent ‘seepage ditch’. In other cases, the fence can be constructed between the north toe of the levee and the irrigation canal technically on IBWC property. However in those cases, we will need access to County property to execute the construction and to perform future maintenance. Because the fence construction either to the north or south of an irrigation canal makes it more difficult for the county to maintain their canal, they are against that solution. Their counter proposal is to set the fence well north of the canal, which would inconvenience the farmers to the north, restricting their access to the road that parallels the canal and encroaching into their agricultural lands. NEGOTIATION/COMMUNICATION TO DATE: The local border patrol sector, SBI-TI and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have engaged in extensive conversations with both County’s concerning this matter, the details of which are being summarized in Negotiator Reports by USACE. As it stands, EPCWID has voiced their abject refusal to voluntarily sign an ROE-S. HCWRD, however, has expressed a willingness to sign a ROE-S if USACE swiftly defines their intended due diligence efforts and provides points of contact for those contractors. USACE is working to comply with that request in an effort to avoid condemnation. PROPOSED SOLUTION: The USACE will soon be notifying each County of the government’s intent to condemn a Right of Entry for Survey & Site Investigation (ROE-S), if they are unwilling to voluntarily sign such a document – the same letter that was mailed in December to landowners who had not yet signed an ROE-S. Following due diligence efforts that will ensue after achieving the ROES, the government will define what portions of the County’s property and what interests in that property will be required to execute construction. Additionally, following survey and site investigation, the government will define any access roads or construction ‘crossings’ over canals will be required.

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