President George W. Bush has appointed C.W. (Bill) Ruth to serve as United States Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission.

Ruth, a 25-year-veteran of the agency who retired in 1998, was sworn in and assumed his duties on Nov. 24. The post had been left vacant with the death of the previous commissioner and his Mexican counterpart in a plane crash two months ago.

International Boundary and Water Commission deals transboundary issues along the U.S.-Mexico border that include flood control, sanitation, boundary demarcation and mapping. It traces its history back to 1889 although its current incarnation was established in 1944.

“I am extremely pleased to come back and serve the Commission,” Ruth said during his swearing-in ceremony Monday in El Paso, Texas. “My top priority is to see that our present programs are able to continue given the current budget challenges.”

A native of La Feria, Texas, Ruth received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from Texas Tech University in 1959.  He worked for the USIWBC from 1973 until 1998 in a number of capacities including Principal Engineer of the Special Projects Department, Project Manager for the Lower Rio Grande Flood Control Project and management positions in various Headquarters divisions.

It is the second presidential appointment for Ruth. In 2002 he was named the Chairman and United States Representative of the Rio Grande Compact Commission – an agency responsible for the distribution of waters of the Rio Grande among the States of Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas from the river's headwaters in Colorado to Fort
Quitman, Texas.

On Sept. 15, both U.S. Commissioner Carlos Marin and Mexican Commissioner Arturo Herrera were killed when the charter plane they were in crashed in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. The pair were conducting an aerial survey as part of the joint US-Mexican effort to respond to flood conditions in the Rio Grande basin.

The NTSB, which is assisting the Mexican agency, said the plane collided with mountainous terrain approximately 100-150 feet below the top of a ridgeline on the west side of the Sierra Grande Mountains. Two others on board were also killed in the crash.

Currently, the commission is in the process of major upgrades to two border wastewater treatment facilities.

Earlier this month, the commission awarded an $88-million contract to upgrade the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (SBIWTP) to the Tempe, Arizona, office of PCL Construction.

The existing $240-million plant in California’s San Diego County – which Ruth oversaw as principal engineer during construction - is capable of processing 25 million gallons per day from Tijuana, Mexico. When the upgrade is completed in 2010, it will provide secondary treatment for effluent from the existing advanced primary plant.

The commission is also working on a $62.5-million upgrade to Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant near Rio Rico, Arizona. The project is slated for completion by the end of 2009. The improvement project will enhance the secondary treatment in order to meet regulatory standards and increase the facility’s capacity to 14.74 mgd.