When residents, elected officials and the leadership of El Paso Water decided to try to bring first-time wastewater service to Montana Vista, they knew it would be a tall order.
The colonia in far east El Paso had for decades relied on septic tanks.
Bringing the precious wastewater infrastructure to their neighborhood required thousands of resident signatures, a sanctioned health study, advocacy from local and state elected officials and $12.9 million in financial assistance from the Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB) Economically Distressed Area Program (EDAP).
A tall order indeed. But now that the vision is a reality and construction is underway, it’s very evident that the project is also a deep order. Because a wastewater system is typically gravity-based, that gravity flow had to be designed.
To achieve the necessary four-degree slope, the deepest manholes at the bottom of the system are a whopping 30 feet deep.
“This depth makes it very difficult to install the manholes without affecting other utilities, street paving, and accessibility for the residents and emergency services,” said Sergio Adame, an engineer with Brock & Bustillos, the firm that designed the project.
“It’s also a slow process. But once we install the deeper manholes, production will speed up as we move up higher and higher toward the street level.”
Not starting at the proper level could lead to not having the needed inclination to have the gravity-based wastewater line. The depth of the low-point manholes also allows for a system without lift stations to pump the wastewater, maximizing the TWDB funds.
Irazema Rojas, Capital Improvement Program Manager, says that although the utility is proud of the technical and logistical aspects of the project, she is most proud of EPWater’s outreach efforts to the community.
“One of the rewarding things about our engineering field is that we can make lives better,” Rojas said. “Through everyone’s efforts, including our community partners, we are now delivering this very necessary service. I got to meet many of the residents and receive hugs and numerous thank-yous for bringing the service to their community. It’s very moving.”