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Home | Tag Archives: el paso water utilities

Tag Archives: el paso water utilities

Women make strides in EPWater workforce

As a heavy equipment operator for El Paso Water, Truck Driver Laura Chaparro-Casas is turning heads.

It happens so often, Chaparro-Casas is no longer fazed by the double takes she gets while driving her Freightliner dump truck to and from a job site. What she does notice are the honks and waves from other women when she is spotted behind the wheel of her 5-ton truck.

“I had an instance when I was working on the West Side and was delivering a full load of materials,” Chaparro-Casas said. “An elderly lady came out of her house, with her caregiver, just to give me a thumbs up. It was awesome; she did it because she saw me working in an all-male environment.”

Chaparro-Casas is the second woman to join the ranks of Heavy Equipment Operators at EPWater and is excited about the opportunities at the utility that take her out of an office setting. She had previous careers in newspaper layout design and as a bus driver for Sun Metro.

“There was an opportunity at El Paso Water, and I jumped on it,” she said. “A lot of people ask, ‘How can you drive that big truck and be out in the sun, dirt and climate?’ My answer to them: Work is work.”

Chaparro-Casas hopes to raise the profile of women in male-dominated occupations, such as hers. She urges other women not to be afraid and says women are more than capable of flourishing in these positions.

“Nothing can stop us, only our fears,” she said. “I am going to strive for better because I know other women are watching me.”

General Service Worker Espy Avila is watching Chaparro-Casas and has similar career aspirations.

Espy Avila | Photo courtesy EP Water

Avila is a new addition to the utility’s Building Maintenance department and represents a new family generation working for EPWater.

Dad Jorge Luis Avila is a Truck Driver for Heavy Equipment Operations and mom Olga Avila is a General Service Worker for Stormwater Management.

Avila has also heard the same concerns about working in a tough occupation and shrugs it off, because she loves the outdoors.

Building Maintenance employees work as landscapers, carpenters and plumbers for the utility.

“Everyone keeps asking me if I am sure I want to do this, and I have never been so sure,” Espy Avila said. “There are opportunities everywhere at El Paso Water, and I have learned a lot about the utility and facilities from working here.”

Avila urges other women to be fearless in taking job opportunities. She already knows what she wants to do next.

“My next step is hopefully going to Heavy Equipment Operations,” Avila said. “I want to do what Laura does.”

Video+Story: EP Water awarded $3.5m to build Water Reclamation and Reuse facility

The Bureau of Reclamation will provide a total of $3.5 million to El Paso and four other communities in California and Hawaii will split the remaining $13.48 million to help plan, design and construct congressionally-authorized Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects.

Using the funds, the El Paso Water will construct an advanced water purification facility to treat wastewater for potable reuse.

The treated water will be conveyed directly to the city’s distribution system, making this facility the first large-scale, direct-to-distribution potable reuse project in the United States.

The funding announced Thursday will be used for a pilot facility and to complete preliminary, detailed and final design phases for the full-scale project.

Once finished, the project will produce 13,000 acre-feet, or 4.2 billion gallons, per year.

Title XVI is part of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Program that focuses on improving water conservation and helping water-resource managers across the West to make sound decisions about water use.

“The Title XVI program is successful in helping communities to look beyond the traditional surface or groundwater sources,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This program allows communities to diversify their water supply—exploring water reuse, recycling and other techniques while improving efficiency and flexibility during water shortages.”

This funding is only available to the sponsors of the 53 congressionally-authorized Title XVI projects, provided that they have not reached their statutory federal funding ceiling.

The five projects selected are expected to produce 130,316 acre-feet, or 42 billion gallons, of water annually. This is enough water to support more than 521,000 people each year.

The other selected projects are:

Padre Dam Municipal Water District, San Diego Area Water Reclamation Program, $778,002.75

The Padre Dam Municipal Water District, which provides water, wastewater, recycled water and recreation services to 100,000 residents in the San Diego suburbs of Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest—is implementing the Phase I Water Recycling Project.

It includes the expansion of the Ray Stoyer Reclamation Facility, construction of a new advanced water purification facility, potable reuse conveyance pipelines, a product water pump station, and a biosolids digestion facility to offset energy demands of the project.

It will create 3,900 acre-feet, or 127 million gallons, per year of potable water by capturing wastewater flows that would otherwise be discharged to the ocean.

City of San Diego, San Diego Area Water Reclamation Program, $10,361,379

The San Diego Area Water Reclamation Program, part of the Pure Water Program, is a phased, multi-year program. By 2035 the program will make 93,000 acre-feet, or 30 billion gallons, of water available per year.

This constitutes about 30% of the City of San Diego’s water supply. This project will provide the city with a new reliable source of potable water and will reduce the amount of wastewater that is released into the ocean.

The funding will be used to complete the final design of the project.

Rancho California Water District, Rancho California Water District Project, $1,727,960

The Rancho California Water District, which provides water and wastewater services near Temecula/Rancho, California, will implement components of its Demineralization and Non-Potable Conversion Program.

The funding will be used for the design, materials, and construction activities to convert 54 irrigation sites to accept non-potable recycled water. The funding will also support activities before construction of a small-scale recycled groundwater recharge facility.

It is expected to save 18,400 acre-feet, or nearly 6 billion gallons, of water per year.

County of Hawaii, Hawaii Reclamation Projects, $614,468.68

The County of Hawaii will conduct planning activities to evaluate upgrading the Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plan to implement water recycling for landscape and recreation applications.

It will involve the necessary improvements to the existing secondary treatment process so that the wastewater treatment plant can produce water suitable for reuse per state guidelines. The project is expected to result in recycled water deliveries of 2,016 acre-feet, or 6.5 million gallons, per year.

To learn more about the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program or view more detailed information about the projects selected, please visit

Video: Rio Grande water allocation arrives in El Paso

A quick video from El Paso water, as the Rio Grande is flowing once again.

EPW officials say, “It’s great news for our water supply because we can ease off the pumping of our aquifers and depend on our treatment plants to deliver high-quality, reliable water straight to your tap!”

For more info about the river allocation and the processes, visit EP Water’s Facebook or their webpage.

EPWater Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Jonathan Rogers Plant

Nearly three decades ago, the area’s aquifers were being pumped heavily to meet growing demands, and El Paso Water learned from several engineering studies that El Paso was at risk of running out of water by 2030 unless major changes were made.

The utility began an aggressive conservation program to reduce water consumption, expanded water recycling and constructed a new water plant to increase the use of river water.

The then-new plant added 40 million gallons of treated river water to the system and helped reduce the strain on underground sources. It was named in honor of  four-time El Paso mayor and U.S. Army Veteran 1st Lt. Jonathan Rogers.

“As the population grows, so has the demand for water,” said Water Plant Superintendent Mike Parker. “This plant has been there to offset some of those demands, and it will continue to do so.”

In 2002, the plant was expanded to produce 60 MGD, further preserving underground supplies for future use.

Photo courtesy EP Water

As El Paso Water celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Jonathan Rogers plant, officials say the facility is an example of “how each plant not only serves the community, but also helps to protect other valuable water resources.”

In order to treat river water, the state-of-the-art facility was designed with granular activated carbon filtration and an ozone disinfection system.

The Jonathan Rogers plant was a pioneer on the frontier of the developing ozone technology, which is now known for being highly effective in removing bacteria and assuring the quality and safety of drinking water.

“The equipment and technology used to produce ozone at the plant is one of the greatest features of the plant,” said Frank Regalado, Water Plant Assistant Superintendent.

Currently, the plant is in the process of replacing the system for the latest model in a $17 million project upgrade scheduled for completion in 2019.

“I look forward to the new streamlined system and its increased efficiency in disinfection,” said Regalado.

Since 1993, the Jonathan Rogers plant has been transforming river water into drinking water, and it holds a special place in the hearts of many who work at the plant. Parker remembers the excitement of his first day at the plant. “It was new, it was innovative for the utility, and the excitement was in the air.”

Several employees of the plant have been there from the beginning and take pride in the facility.

“I’m proud to teach the newest of our employees the technology that we use at the Jonathan Rogers plant to be able to deliver high quality water to our community,” said Regalado.

Council Approves Amendment to Water Conservation Ordinance

On Tuesday, El Paso City Council unanimously approved to amend the current Water Conservation Ordinance to improve water conservation at City Parks while maintaining healthy turf at city parks.

“These changes will increase efficiencies with irrigation and the maintenance of our parks that our community demands and deserves; while also being smarter on how we use and conserve our valuable commodity—water,” said Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Joel McKnight.

The amendment was part of a combined effort with El Paso Water Utilities, Parks and Recreation staff, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board members and key user groups who develop recommendations.

The amendments allow the Parks and Recreation Department to be separated into their own section of the code and no longer be restricted to just three days of watering, but still be restricted to watering from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Prior to the amendment, City parks were restricted to three days of watering from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. resulting in puddling, run off, interference with park maintenance and affecting organized and individual sports.

Via a news release, city officials added, “These changes align with Goal 4 of the Strategic Plan, which enhance El Paso’s Quality of Life through Recreational, Cultural and Educational Environments.”

El Paso Water Works to Beautify Facilities Throughout City

Imagine deeply rooted artistic rock walls adorned with wrought-iron detail enclosed the sleek, modern architecture of a new building. Water-smart landscaping surrounded the grounds showcasing the beauty of native El Paso flora.

Is this a luxury resort? No, but it may represent the future for some upcoming El Paso Water facility projects.

EPWater has facilities throughout El Paso that produce reliable, high quality drinking water. Others perform stormwater flood control functions with the vital task of collecting and cleaning wastewater from homes and businesses. Although they are necessary locations, they do not have to be unsightly.

“That’s one of the top priorities in the job I’m doing right now – to look at facilities and come up with recommendations to beautify them for the community,” Construction Superintendent Art Quijano said.

For future projects, EPWater will evaluate whether beautification is needed to better compliment neighborhoods. The utility is also evaluating existing structures in need of aesthetic improvements.

One of EPWater’s latest upgrades was to the Pico Norte Lift Station, a facility situated in the heart of the Pico Norte community that pumps wastewater to plants for treatment.

“We took the surrounding area into consideration, including the YMCA, Eastwood Middle School and the Pico Norte Park,” Quijano said. “We wanted it to be modern and blend in with the neighborhood, but we didn’t want it stand out. It needed to have attractive features with curb appeal.”

The redesign swapped the 1960s mansard-style roof with a sleek, flat front. The building’s newly installed metal siding was extended upward to cover rooftop equipment as well as shield the surrounding community from the noise it can produce.

LED lighting and siding materials were chosen for its look as well as long-term savings from low energy usage and durability.

Residents walking the park trails expressed delight when crews ousted the industrial looking chain-link fence and barbed wire to make way for updated rock walls, matching wrought-iron detail and an enhanced gateway.

“As we were working, they would comment, ‘Looking good. It’s about time,’” Quijano said. “They could see the difference.”

In just a few short months, Mulberry Pond in the Upper Valley will be the next project to receive a face-lift.

The site near Mulberry and Doniphan recently underwent an odor-control overhaul and will soon feature a new rock wall with wrought-iron detailing and a low-cut corner to enhance traffic visibility around the pond.

The nearby lift station will be hidden by the new wall and possibly repainted. A gate will update site security and discourage children and adults from entering the canal, which can fill up with stormwater and flood in minutes.

Quijano said Mulberry pond is located close to residential communities and feels this is an important site to tackle.

With many sites on Quijano’s radar he said, “It feels good that I can help improve the neighborhoods for so many people.”

El Paso Water Earns Directors Award for Water Distribution System

El Paso Water is among an elite group of utilities to earn the Partnership for Safe Water’s Directors Award for Distribution System Operations.

EPWater received this award for successfully completing a comprehensive self-assessment of distribution system operations and optimization that demonstrate the utility’s commitment to delivering safe, high quality water to the community.

“We are honored to be one of an elite group of systems to receive this award,” said EPWater CEO and President John Balliew. “Our utility’s goal is to be a leader in optimization and to continuously strive to optimize performance and provide high-quality water. The award demonstrates our ongoing commitment to protecting public health.”

The self-assessment process involves evaluation of distribution system operations and performance, identification of performance limiting factors and the development of action plans to achieve distribution system optimization. A final step involves participation by independent experts in a peer-review process, who prepare and publish a completion report.

The Partnership for Safe Water is a voluntary self-assessment and optimization program for water treatment plant and distribution system operations.

More than 250 utility subscribers, collectively serving more than 85 million people are committed to the Partnership’s goals of providing safe, high-quality drinking water through achieving operational excellence. Partnership members participate in a rigorous four-phase self-assessment and peer review process, developed by industry experts, and are recognized broadly for their commitment to delivering safe water to their communities.

EPWater was one of a select group of utilities recognized at the annual conference of the American Water Works Association on June 12, for achieving the Directors Award-level of performance within the Partnership’s Distribution System Optimization Program.

El Paso Water Highlights Infrastructure Improvements Around City

To celebrate National Infrastructure Week with utilities across the country, EPWater is highlighting some of the many projects in and around the city.

For 2018, EP Water officials say they are investing $75 million to replace aging water and wastewater lines, rehabilitate wells and reservoirs, and make much needed upgrades to various facilities.

El Paso Water maintains over 2,653 miles of water lines buried beneath the city – enough to stretch from El Paso to the tip of Maine –  and crews are always working to upgrade the elaborate system.

With many storage tanks, pump stations, and treatment facilities working alongside stormwater structures like dams, channels and ponds; a system of this size requires continual investment in the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure, as well as new construction projects to support city growth.

One such project features EP Water crews replacing one of the oldest water storage tanks dating back to the 1920s: Jackson Ground Water Storage Tank.

To improve capacity and reliability of service for nearly 200 locations in west central El Paso, the tank is being replaced with a three-million-gallon tank, pump station and connections to the distribution system.

The project will restore the tank to its original storage capacity, ensuring reliable service during drought and emergencies.

Aesthetic improvements include a new rock wall with decorative wrought iron fencing, water-smart plants, and a newly paved access road shared with neighbors. The construction cost for this project is $4.6 million.

Not too far away in central El Paso, the Haskell R. Street Wastewater Plant dates back to 1923. The plant provides essential services to nearly 150,000 customers by treating 27.7 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Projects underway will improve efficiency, reliability and odor control. Odors have been a persistent problem in surrounding neighborhoods for decades, but work performed at the plant and with the incoming distribution systems has slashed detectable odor to the community by 75 percent.

Recent upgrades have overhauled the “degrit facilities”—one of the first stops in the treatment process, mitigated odors from incoming wastewater mains, and upgraded primary clarifiers and related enclosures. The upgrades will continue with planned improvements to pumps, mechanical screens and compactors as well as an aeration channel cover, which together should eliminate odors beyond the plant boundary.

Across town, the Thomas Manor Park Pond and Pump Station Project is a good example of blending infrastructure needs with quality of life improvements.

While EP Water works to improve flood control and increase public safety, the park will get a facelift thanks to the partnership between EP Water, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department and the Ysleta Independent School District.

Infrastructure updates include: a relocated pond that will increase stormwater capacity by more than 11 million gallons, a rehabilitated pump station, and replacement of aging water and wastewater pipes within the park.

The new park-pond design will not only capture stormwater runoff but also create recreational opportunities for nearby residents by providing fresh turf for green fields, updated walking trails, and a new play area.

Video+Story: Technology Spurs EP Water’s Odor Control Projects

Times and technology have changed El Paso Water’s Haskell R. Street Wastewater Treatment Plant, and so have the complaints regarding odor control.

In 2012, EP Water commissioned a report to identify odor control solutions. One the results were in, crews began implementation of those solutions shortly thereafter. With the new technology – and the 29 workers at the plant, on Delta Drive south of the El Paso County Coliseum – EP Water was able cut the number of homes affected by the odors from 21,000 to 5,000, a reduction of odor by 75 percent.

Utility officials say that, “Building on past efforts, recent projects continue to reduce the number of homes affected by odors, and further improvements are imminent….EPWater has made vast improvements over the decades, and neighbors have noticed.”

Now EPWater officials say they are in the middle of the latest and “most significant upgrades” at the 95-year-old plant, which provides services to nearly 150,000 customers in Central El Paso and Fort Bliss.

“We have revised the odor control master plan, incorporated technological advancements, and began installations and replacements to further decrease odors from the plant.”

The latest round of the first of five odor control projects started in 2015, with de-grit facilities. Chemicals added to wastewater mains came next and was completed in 2017. The third project, associated with the rehabilitation of four primary clarifiers, is nearing completion.

“We are confident that two remaining future projects will practically eliminate odors for the Haskell plant’s neighbors: a headworks project, as well as an aeration channel cover and dewatering project,” officials shared.  “Combating odors at EPWater’s wastewater treatment plants is a long-term, solid investment…administering odor-control solutions improves working conditions for our employees and enhances quality of life for the community.”

El Paso Water Crews Begin Next Phase of Kentucky Dam Project

Starting Wednesday, El Paso Water will close Alabama Street, from Wheeling Avenue to Richmond Avenue, to all traffic for several weeks to complete the next phase of the Kentucky Dam stormwater improvement project.

During the closure, crews will replace the water mains in the closed off area and install new stormwater lines, improving services and flood safety for the area.

Drivers for both directions of traffic will be able to detour around the construction by driving over to Piedras Street and then back onto Alabama via Wheeling or Richmond.

The $3.9 million project will help reduce flooding in Central El Paso. The project will increase the capacity of nearby ponds and add piping that keeps water off the streets by directing stormwater into the dam.

Additionally, the project will improve service in the area by replacing water and wastewater lines.


Video+Info: El Paso Water Urges Customers to “Protect Their Pipes”

With the coldest temperatures of the season expected to arrive this week, El Paso Water urges you to “Protect Your Pipes” to avoid costly repairs to your home or business.

“The average home loses about 10,000 gallons a year due to leaks,” said Alan Shubert, Vice President of Operations and Technical Services. “Customers should be proactive with protecting their home and pocketbook.”

Outdoor plumbing and faucets are vulnerable to severely cold temperatures. EPWater recommends these tips to avoid broken pipes:

  • Insulate exposed pipes and faucets outside and around your home, including those in unheated areas like basements, garages, attics or crawl-spaces.
  • In severe cold only, let cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. Running a drip of water through the pipes helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water is above freezing.
  • If a pipe does break on your property, know where your water meter is and how to turn water off immediately to avoid further damage and water waste.
  • If you will be away for several days, turn off your water at the meter or ask someone to monitor your home in your absence.

EPWater also urges customers to inspect their outdoor plumbing and monitor their water meter to ensure they are not dealing with any unknown leaks, which could increase their bill and make their pipes even more vulnerable to the cold.

Remember, property owners are responsible for water pipes that start at the meter and run throughout your property.

If customers have abnormally high water usage as a result of a water leak, you may qualify for a leak adjustment and get a partial credit on your bill. Call EPWater Customer Service at 594-5500 to learn more about the program

El Paso Water Utilities Unveils new Logo, Name

El Paso Water Utilities is changing its name and look to offer a clear message—We are El Paso Water.

“This logo is simple, modern and easily recognizable. Along with a new name, the logo reflects our efforts to provide diverse and innovative water resources to a growing El Paso region,” said El Paso Water President and CEO John Balliew. 7P9B0192

With oversight by the Public Service Board, El Paso Water provides water, wastewater, reclamation and stormwater management services.

The utility serves approximately 800,000 people in the El Paso region.

El Paso Water has also been recognized as a national leader for its innovative water supply strategy that includes water reuse, inland desalination and conservation.

The new logo will be officially unveiled Thursday at the El Paso Chihuahua’s home game at Southwest University Park.


American Water Works leaders visit El Paso to mark EPWU anniversary

American Water Works Association (AWWA) leaders made a special visit to El Paso today and joined utility and plant leaders to help mark the 30-year anniversary of the Fred Hervey Water Reclamation Plant and its record as a pioneer in aquifer replenishment.

They toured the plant that has been cleaning used water and recharging the Hueco Bolson aquifer beneath El Paso since 1985.  The plant was named for former El Paso Mayor Fred Hervey, who was largely responsible for the creation of the Public Service Board.

“Across the country and especially in California, aquifer replenishment is being hailed as a new water solution to meet supply needs, but here in El Paso, we are celebrating 30 years of success with this technology,” said El Paso Water Utilities President and CEO John Balliew.  “Today, I’m pleased to give special recognition to the team that developed and constructed the Fred Hervey Plant and our team that has successfully operated the facility over the years.  Your hard work and innovation paved the way for others and helped ensure the longevity of our valuable aquifer.”

Fred Hervey Plant Manager Vick Pedregon pointed out that the facility is nearing 30 billion gallons returned to the aquifer. An additional 27 billion gallons of water has been sold directly to reclaimed customers, representing that amount of aquifer water saved.

“Based on our science, we have determined it takes about 2-5 years from when we inject water into the aquifer to when it will be returned to El Paso customers as drinking water,” said Pedregon.

After a ceremony celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Fred Hervey Plant, AWWA leaders toured the Hervey Plant and the Advanced Water Purification Pilot Facility, El Paso’s latest groundbreaking water reuse project that will transform used water into drinking water and send it directly to customers.

“As drought conditions continue across the West and groundwater depletion becomes a growing concern, many communities that rely on one source of water have a new sense of urgency to find additional water sources,” said David LaFrance, AWWA’s Chief Executive Officer. “We hope other utilities can learn from El Paso’s innovative technology solutions that we saw today.”

Author: El Paso Water Utilities

Proposed Stormwater fee increase could cost homeowners 35 cents per month

In the first of two budget workshops before the Public Service Board (PSB), El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU) staff Monday night proposed a stormwater budget of $57.8 million for the upcoming fiscal year 2016-2017.

Staff recommended an 11% increase – or 35 cents to the typical household.

According to EPWU officials, the proposed 2016-2017 monthly Stormwater fee, which totals $3.56 for the typical household, would still be among the most affordable in the State of Texas.

“As our city continues to grow, so do our stormwater needs,” says EPWU President and CEO John Balliew. “Approval of this budget will move us one step closer in affordably addressing over $650 million worth of stormwater improvements identified in the Stormwater Master Plan.”

The increase will allow the Utility to complete more capital projects, increase flood protection, pay off debt accrued from previous projects and increase cash reserves, which are important for the Utility to maintain its AA+ bond rating and qualify for lower interest loans.

The budget includes operations and maintenance, flood control projects, and the continued transfer of ten pecent in revenues for dual-purpose park-ponds and open space projects.

On March 1, 2008, the Public Service Board assumed responsibility from the City of El Paso for stormwater drainage infrastructure. Stormwater fees provide the dedicated source of funding for system operations, maintenance, and capital projects to improve flood control.

The proposed budget will dedicate 88 percent – or $50.7 million – for new drainage improvement projects and for interest payments on projects currently under construction. Approximately $6.98 million – or 12 percent – of the proposed budget will go toward operations and maintenance of existing pump stations, ponds, dams and hundreds of miles of channels and drains.

The PSB will hold a second workshop next Monday, Nov. 16th at 6 p.m. to hear the proposed budget for water, wastewater and reclaimed water utilities. The public is invited to budget workshops as well as to the December 16th monthly PSB meeting, and a final hearing on stormwater budget at the January 13th monthly PSB meeting.

The PSB will deliberate and approve final budgets and fee changes on January 13. The new budget and fees would go into effect at the beginning of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2016.

For more information,

Author: El Paso Water Utilities

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