Tag Archives: New River

The Most Polluted River in North America

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The New River originates in Mexico and flows into the United States through Calexico, California. The river eventually meets up with the Salton Sea, a large inland sea. The New River is the most polluted river in the U.S. Residents living in towns near the river – like Calexico and Holtville – have complained about the ‘rotten egg’ odor for many years. Various reports showed that high phosphorous levels in the river create the smell. Although no evidence shows breathing in the fumes is harmful, there are warnings posted everywhere that contact with the water is dangerous.

At the Colorado River Citizens Forum meeting held in El Centro on June 7, 2011, people discussed extensive work being done to decrease the pollutants in the New River.

Our River Smells Like Rotten Eggs

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The New River, which flows north from Mexico into Calexico, has been a problem discussed at federal, state and local levels for almost 50 years. Known as being the most polluted river in the United States, the New River carries heavy loads of residential raw sewage, industrial pollution and agricultural waste from Mexicali, Mexico through Calexico, California. Current data shows that the most common and dangerous pollutants found in the river are microbial contaminants such as fecal coliform bacteria, which finds its way into the river water via sewage, confined animal operations and trash dumping. Hydrogen sulfide is the most common sulfur-containing compound related to sewage, and makes the New River smell like rotten eggs.