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Environmental testing results near Lawson Dump Site to take 10 days

September 7, 2023

The current estimate for environmental testing results of rainwater collected near the Lawson Dump Site is expected to take up to 10 days. Earlier estimates for the results were two days, however, the specialized testing required will extend the timeframe for the results.

County teams have responded to the flash flooding incident near the Lawson Dump Site since Saturday, Sept. 2. The Department of Environmental Health gathered rainwater samples on Tuesday, Sept. 5, which was the earliest the department could collect the prepared test sample kits from the laboratory. The specialized testing is at the direction of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“The county has committed significant resources to the community of Thermal to recover from this terrible flooding,” said Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, Fourth District. “The community and the county alike want answers to what is in the water. After contacting multiple laboratories, ten days is the fastest turnaround time for this specific testing. In the meantime, I urge all residents in the area to follow safety precautions.”

Three mobile home parks in the unincorporated area of Thermal and near the Lawson Dump were flooded with water and other unknown materials on Friday, Sept. 1 following flash flooding in the Eastern Coachella Valley. A breach in the retaining berm of the Lawson Dump site was found by county teams surveying the damage from Friday’s flash flooding.

The San Jose Mobile Home Park, Vargas Mobile Home Park and Gamez Mobile Home Park have been under an evacuation warning since Saturday, Sept. 2. A shelter is available for residents at the Galilee Center in Mecca. Evacuated residents will be provided with a safe place to stay, meals and services.

All residents in the area should avoid contact with rainwater and runoff until further notice. Results of the rainwater testing will determine if additional precautions are necessary. If anyone is feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms, they are urged to contact their doctor or visit a local health clinic.

The County Transportation Department has restored vehicle access to flooded, damaged or washed-out roads. As of yesterday, Sept. 6, vehicle access has been restored for all three mobile home parks. Current road closures that remain in the area are:

  • Fillmore Street in Thermal, bridge closure at 52nd Ave.
  • Johnson Street in Oasis, from Avenue 81 to Avenue 82
  • Van Buren Street in Vista Santa Rosa, from Avenue 66 to Avenue 62

In addition, the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District is conducting surveillance in the area and will provide mosquito control treatments this week.

As additional information is available, it will be posted on social media. Follow RivCoNow and RivCoReady on social media for the latest information.

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