3 May 2010

60 Minutes on the All American Canal

Over 550 people have drowned there. Imperial Irrigation District is in charge of safety, and they -- as with most things -- have not been effective in increasing it.

Here's the report (via DW), and here's a choice quotation (among many sad statements):
Fletermeyer believes it would take about $1 million to install buoys and escape lines every 150 feet.

"With the recommendations that I made, I think it's very realistic to say that 75 percent of the drownings could be prevented," he said.

And last year the board agreed to test one of Fletermeyer's safety lines.

But according to Stella Mendoza, that test never happened. Asked why, she said, "Bureaucracy."


Hunter was so frustrated with the pace of installing safety features that he built his own. Then, wearing fins and a wetsuit against the cold, he installed his system in less than ten minutes.

The Imperial Irrigation District removed it almost as fast.


"If 500 and more Americans had drowned in the canal, what do you think would have happened?" Pelley asked.

"If 50 Americans had drowned in the canal, this would have been solved a long time ago," Hunter replied.


The Imperial Irrigation District has recently started a year-long test of a single safety line. If the board votes to install the system it's testing, it will still cover only a short stretch of the canal that is lined with concrete.

"So three-quarters of the canal would have no safety features?" Pelley asked Stella Mendoza.

"Correct," she replied.

At this time, she said there's no plan for putting in safety features.

"So it's not likely people are gonna stop drowning in the canal?" Pelley asked.

"Probably," Mendoza replied.
And there you have it folks, "Let 'em drown Mendoza"

BTW, I appreciate the idea that the AAC is a moat that will "secure the border" from illegals, but are we really interested in killing people who try to get in? I think that's barbaric.


  1. Why are people falling in the canal? Here is a barbaric statement, if you're close enough to the canal to fall in, you deserve whatever happens to you. Although I am all for more open immigration policies, why should we be footing the bill for such stupidity?
    Over here in Seoul recently the government decided to spend millions of dollars to install walls in the subways because a few times a year somebody decides to commit suicide by throwing themselves in front of the trains.
    Am I really a callous barbarian for not wanting my tax dollars to be spent on such projects?

  2. @Justin -- I am all for facilitating suicide, but these migrants are not trying to die. Bad analogy.

  3. Justin: Our immigration system - particularly relating to Latin America - is broken (if nothing else, at least lou Dobbs identified the problem). We can't simultaneously claim that we don't want illegal migrants here while conveniently looking the other way as companies give them jobs.

    People aren't generally "falling" into the canal, they're dying trying to swim across to get the job we say we won't give them, but for more than 100 years we have anyway. The toughness of immigration laws ebbs and flows, as do the availability of jobs, but there is no correlation between the two. The "we-don't-want-you-here-but-we-don't-want-to-pay-more-for-stuff-you-provide" is messed up...and death in the canal becomes much more problematic and troubling.

    So if you're "for more open immigration policies", why the "you deserve what you get" attitude? Like with our immigration policy, I'm feeling the inconsistency.

  4. I found the segment very alarming and highly illogical. The specialist that they consulted put a price tag on the installation of safety features at 1 million dollars. Not doing any real math, but just thinking about the American products that these "illegals" buy and the work they do here, I could see a cost/benefit analysis being very interesting

    Was it just me or did Stella Mendoza appear to be illogical and...for lack of a better word stupid? I'm absolutely amazed that the IID Board of Directors and herself would take such a strong anti-immigration stance, since the county is strongly Democrat and has a large Hispanic population. Then again, I shouldn't be very surprised since her educational and political experience is lacking.

    Check this out to see the background info on the Directors. Lots of special interests.

  5. @Andrew
    So if I am for open immigration polices I must also be for spending money on safety devices for the canal? How is being for the first and against the second inconsistent? Jumping into a canal is stupid, and so is our immigration policy, can't I hate both?

    The point of the subway example was simply to highlight another instance where the misbehavior of a few people has become a justification for huge government spending in order to prevent those people from harming themselves.
    People (whoever they are) who make extreme decisions, like jumping in front of subway, or swimming across a dangerous canal, or hiking Mt. Everest for that matter, do not deserve government protection especially when it is so expensive to provide.

  6. Thought I would add this to the discussion. The IID and Mendoza have issued a clarification on their interview with 60 Minutes.


  7. I like to be kind, so "out of her league" works for me.

  8. @Justin: I would suggest that it is inconsistent to be for more open immigration policies while simultaneously saying migrant drowning victims "deserve what they get". If you don't want to spend money to install safety features, and you truly believe immigration should be more open, then I would expect something like "we need to reform immigration (what we say) to match our hiring practices (what we do) so we don't continue to indirectly cause the deaths of migrant workers." The "deserve what they get" attitude seems more in line with nationalistic, protectionist views held by those who believe migrant workers steal jobs and drain resources...so presumably by "reform" you are using the term to mean reform rather than a euphamism for closed borders.

  9. 60 Minutes' interview with Stella Mendoza made her look cold and impervious to the humanity at risk in her canal that siphons the Colorado to the Imperial Valley and prevents the river from making it to its mouth in of all places, MEXICO. Where is the moat to keep the Canadians out? Why are our borders open with Canada and fortified against Mexico? The only difference is that many Mexicans are of Native American descent while most Canadians are of Northern European descent. Perhaps this is because the Canadians don't need the work in meat processing, agricultural work, or other low paying, back breaking or dangerous "menial" jobs Americans shun because they have 1) National Health 2) Unemployment benefits that don't expire, and 3) they don't view non whites as "invaders". Lately, a lot of issues seem to boil down to pure racism.

  10. @Eric and Andrew -- Mendoza is like that a lot: http://aguanomics.com/2009/07/unfair-price-increases.html

    @Justin -- I think that "appropriate" safety features are a good idea for ALL public works, whether they protect white skin or brown skin. I agree that safety features can get outa hand (remember automatic seatbelts?) but lines in the canal -- where there is a KNOWN danger -- are not.

  11. @David We simply disagree on what "appropriate" is then. Given the extreme (and stupid) decision that a person must take in order for those lines in the canal to be useful, I think it is unreasonable to ask me to pay for them. This has nothing to do with race. I don't want to pay (a lot) to prevent the stupid, extreme, and rare decisions of anyone, white, brown, black, or green.
    People make stupid decisions and every once and awhile they pay for them, sometimes dearly. With our limited resources I'm not sure why this should be high, or even on, the to-do list.

  12. Just to clarify a few things, it's not that "Imperial Irrigation District is in charge of safety," it's that they are an easy target for a number of reasons. Dept of Interior owns the canal, and canal lining (which made the canal more dangerous for swimmers) was done under contract for SDCWA. IID operates the canal, but they have limited authority to make material changes to the canal. San Diego County and the Federal Government have just as much, if not more, responsibility for the situation as IID.

    Could IID install safety lines without getting permission from SDCWA or DoI? Probably. Should they? Maybe. But they certainly don't bear all the blame (nor should they have to bear the whole cost).

    Also, since the border fence was completed along the canal's route, the number of drownings has plummeted.


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