Commuters who look to the south while traveling east on Interstate Highway 10 can watch the progress of one the latest El Paso Water stormwater projects.
Just past the Copia Street exit, contractors are expanding the Gateway stormwater detention pond.
Rainfall follows nature’s stormwater system; it flows through arroyos and natural channels and creates ponds and streams that are absorbed by the land. But development obstructs these natural flow paths, which causes flooding during severe rain storms.
Because the central neighborhoods of El Paso were developed without adequate drainage infrastructure, the elevated portion of I-10 would block stormwater flows during heavy rain events. This periodically led to freeway flooding in the area between Cotton and Piedras streets and along Gateway West Boulevard.
Resolving the issue is a multi-phase, multi-million dollar problem that included building upstream ponds to capture and reduce the water’s velocity and improving dams that control its release.
The Gateway Pond collects water that might otherwise disrupt traffic by flooding the freeway and adjacent frontage road.
Work on the north side of I-10 began in 2012 with the 18-foot deep “Gateway West” stormwater detention pond, which was originally designed to capture 3.5 million gallons of stormwater flows.
In subsequent years, the pond was lined with concrete, expanded and excavated to its current 50-foot depth.
Work on the opposite side of the freeway began in 2015 with the construction of the 28-foot
deep “Gateway East” stormwater pond.
A tunnel built under the freeway houses a 60-inch equalization pipe that will connect the pond’s two sides.
The project scope expanded when EPWater acquired adjacent properties, and now the east pond, like the west pond, will be 50-feet deep this summer when the project is complete.
The two sides will work as one pond that helps protect I-10 during heavy rainstorms by taking 52 million gallons of stormwater off the street.
Officials with EPWater say the high-profile Gateway Pond expansion is one several drainage improvement projects currently under construction.
Projects are also underway in the central, northeast, and northwest El Paso.