Photo courtesy EPWater

EPWater crews working to complete Montana Vista wastewater system

It has been nearly a year since El Paso Water marked the start of the Montana Vista Wastewater Project, a project bringing first-time wastewater service to the Far East El Paso community.

“This is a great improvement,” said Jesus Garcia, who has lived in Montana Vista for about 30 years with his family. His home was connected a few months ago to the new system.

So far, EPWater has completed service line installations for more than half of customers in the project’s first phase, about 429 customers. In addition to the completed wastewater lines, about 440 residences have partially completed lines.

The $12.9 million project is funded by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) after the state determined it was a public health nuisance for residents to be utilizing septic tanks.

To date, crews have installed 57,483 feet of pipe underground and have constructed more than 100 manholes.

“We’ve received very good comments and appreciation from residents who fought for this project,” said Irazema Rojas, EPWater Capital Improvement Manager.

For a smoother transition, EPWater created a phone line dedicated to answering questions and addressing the concerns of Montana Vista residents. Customers were also able to speak with representatives in person, but that came to halt when a global pandemic made its appearance in El Paso.

EPWater representatives immediately suspended going from door-to-door to assist residents and the New Installations Customer Service Center created for this project was also shut down.

“We are still here to assist with outstanding people in our customer service department,” Rojas said.

The phone line created specifically for Montana Vista residents will be available for the duration of the entire project. If customers need to submit any documentation or paperwork, they can send via mail, e-mail or fax. Customers are also notified when new service lines are completed with a note on their door.

Amid a pandemic, contractors have kept the construction work moving forward, and there have been no major disruptions in the project. Workers have adjusted to a new normal, with protective masks and extra precautions, to ensure a safe environment.

“The work is moving fast and in an orderly manner,” Garcia said.

The improvement brings a new cost to his family, but Garcia said the benefits of a wastewater system outweigh the troubles of a septic tank. “It’s been a long time coming, and this is an important investment.”

Phase I of the project is scheduled to be completed in summer of 2021.

When the Montana Vista Wastewater System is finished, an estimated 2,400 homes will be connected to the modern infrastructure, improving their quality of life.