Photo courtesy EPWater
EPWater officials announced Friday that the utility has implemented the second phase of its mitigation plan to divert wastewater away from the Rio Grande to the Haskell R. Street Wastewater Treatment Plant in South-Central El Paso.
Utility officials say that this phase will take additional wastewater out of the American Canal and divert it to the Haskell Plant through a pipeline. After treatment, the clean water will be discharged back into the Rio Grande.
The first phase of the mitigation plan started in late September when the utility started diverting wastewater to the Roberto Bustamante Treatment Plant in the Lower Valley to reduce the environmental impact to the Rio Grande.
EPWater began discharging wastewater to the Rio Grande in August to avoid overflow into neighborhoods after the failure of the Frontera Force Mains.
Work continues to install the replacement of the Frontera Force Mains near Sunland Park Drive and Doniphan Drive with an estimated completion date of December 2021.
The utility recently felt the impacts of the nationwide supply chain shortage but found a solution to the delayed shipment of materials.
“We have taken matter into our own hands by setting up an on-site manufacturing shop to produce the fiberglass needed for the pipelines,” said Gilbert Trejo, Chief Technical Officer. “Rather than waiting for shipment that is behind, these efforts will help ensure that we meet our deadline to complete the project on schedule.”
In the last two weeks, the contractor has focused on manufacturing fiberglass pipes and fittings for the pipeline, conducting quality assurance monitoring and preparing to connect the new pipeline at the lift station.
EPWater continues to coordinate and communicate with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, International Boundary Water Commission, the El Paso County Water Improvement District #1 and other stakeholders as the utility works through this unprecedented wastewater emergency.
Officials remind residents that, beginning on August 13, the utility experienced multiple breaks to the Frontera Force Mains.
On average, the lines carry about 10 million gallons of wastewater from West El Paso every day. Additional breaks – and wastewater backups in a low-lying Upper Valley neighborhood– forced EPWater to make the difficult decision to divert wastewater to the Rio Grande in late August.
The utility reported the initial wastewater emergency to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and has maintained regular contact with the agency throughout the process.