An Inspection is set by July 17 of a highly disputed section of U.S.-Mexico border wall built with private funds on private land on the bank of the Rio Grande in Mission, Texas that is showing signs of erosion and instability.
A federal judge in Texas ordered the wall builder, North Dakota contractor Fisher Sand & Gravel, and government officials to agree on an assessment of the 3.5-mile barrier's structural condition and proposed remedies, and set an Aug. 5 hearing date for an update.
The problem came to light in lawsuits filed last year over construction of he $42-million bollard fence, which plaintiffs charge is in violation of a treaty with Mexico under the International Boundary and Water Commission, and poses strong flood risk built on sandy loam.
The erosion issues also were detailed in a recently published joint probe by non-profit publications Texas Tribune and Pro-Publica, which included independent engineering analysis.
“Ultimately the wall needs to be taken down and the bank remediated,” Javier Pena, attorney for the National Butterfly Center, a private sanctuary located adjacent to the project that is a plaintiff, told ENR.
Federal barrier also being built in Texas has been located on a levee about 1 mile north of the private wall location.
According to Pena, the upcoming inspection is expected to be done by Mark Tompkins, principal and founder of Oakland, Calif., engineering consultant FlowWest LLC, who has expertise in river hydrology, sediment transport and ecosystem restoration and is a former senior water resources and ecosystem management technologist at engineer CH2M.
He previously testified for the center in its lawsuit and warned that the fence would change hydraulics and sediment transport along the river that could exacerbate flooding and destroy portions of the land, according to his affidavit in the court record.
An attorney for Fisher did not respond to a request for comment. It has contracted separate engineering analysis, according to Pena.
Fisher has said it wants to donate or sell the Texas wall to the U.S. government, as well as another built on the Texas-New Mexico border.
Fisher also is among contractors selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair and extend the federally-funded border wall, with current federal contracts for work in Arizona that total about $1.7 billion. The award of one is under audit by the Defense Dept. inspector general.