In the first of two budget workshops, El Paso Water Staff presented the proposed 2017-18 stormwater budget to the Public Service Board (PSB).
The PSB is considering the $55.1 million dollar budget with a 61 cent per month fee increase for the typical homeowner.
The fee increase will allow El Paso Water to expand flood control projects, maintain the existing stormwater system, and continue to set ten percent of funds aside for dual-purpose ponds and open space projects.
“We have prioritized projects that reduce flood risk in high-traffic areas and that have the potential to save lives and protect private property,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “The completion of Magnolia Pump Station and Gateway Ponds in Central El Paso have significantly reduced flooding in Central and near I-10. While that work continues, we need to now focus more on other areas to protect all El Pasoans.”
Along with continued work in Central El Paso, the proposed stormwater budget includes capital improvement projects in the Northeast, West and Mission Valley. Among the new projects in the proposed budget are the Thomas Manor Pond improvements in the Mission Valley, the Mesa Hills improvements in West El Paso, and Fairbanks and other improvements in the Northeast.
The initial Stormwater Master Plan identified over $650 million in capital projects needed to improve flood control, and additional project needs are identified every year.
About 18% of the initial scope of work has been completed. Top priority was given to those flood control projects that would have the biggest impact in reducing risk to public safety and private property. Completed projects in Central El Paso alone have resulted in 38 million gallons of capacity created for flood control, which translates into water diverted from streets and highways.
Stormwater operations has also been highly productive in maintaining the existing system. As a result, the operating budget has decreased by over half a million dollars for this coming year. Over $9 million in funds has been used to acquire open space and build dual-purpose ponds – and $5.6 million is set aside for 2017.
A second workshop is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 14th at 6 p.m. for the water, wastewater and reclaimed water budget. The public is invited to budget workshops as well as upcoming regular PSB meetings on November 9 and December 14.
The PSB will approve final budgets and fee changes on January 11. The new budget and fees would go into effect at the beginning of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2017.