Environmentalists say the US border-security fence is to blame for water backups in southwestern Arizona and Mexico, where steel-mesh panels meant to keep illegal immigrants out are getting clogged with flood debris, the AP reports. Critics are focusing their attacks on Homeland Defense Secretary Michael Chertoff, who waived environmental laws three times to meet the year-end deadline for the 670-mile fence.
Federal officials claim they followed environmental regulations despite the waivers, but local groups say they raised concerns a year ago based on local flash-flooding knowledge. "It doesn't take an expert hydrologist to anticipate the potential for these walls to become like dams," one critic vented. Last month, a flash flood created debris pileups along the fence and eroded patrol roads.