President Donald Trump’s border wall probably will require installating hundreds of storm gates to prevent flash floods from undermining or knocking it over, gates that must be left open for months every summer during “monsoon season” in the desert, say border officials, agents and engineers familiar with the plans, the Washington Post reports. The open, unmanned gates in remote areas already have allowed for the easy entry of smugglers and migrants into the U.S. At locations along the southern border where such gates already are in operation, Border Patrol agents must manually raise them every year before the arrival of the summer thunderstorms that convert riverbeds into raging torrents that carry massive amounts of water and debris, including sediment, rocks, tree limbs and vegetation.
Trump’s wall, which features 30-foot metal bollards four inches apart, effectively acts as a sewer grate that traps debris; when clogged, the barriers cannot withstand the power of the runoff. Because the gates typically are in isolated areas that lack electricity, they cannot be operated from afar. That requires the Border Patrol to leave the gates open for months, increasing the need for agents to monitor the sites because smugglers and other border-crossers can enter through the gaps and advance north following stream channels and narrow canyons to avoid detection. The flooding risks are one of the biggest engineering challenges to the wall idea. The Trump administration has said little about how it plans to manage the hydrology of the border region. Smugglers have learned how to cut through the new steel bollards using tools they can buy at hardware stores, and some have demonstrated that the wall can be climbed with handmade ladders and rope.