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Tag Archives: ep water

EPWater goes to great depths in Montana Vista project

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.

Photo courtesy EPWater

“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.”

Photo courtesy EPWater


Video+Story: Eastside stormwater project underway

Residents along Sam Snead Drive in El Paso are looking forward to improved flood control as El Paso Water overhauls the stormwater system in the Pico Norte area.

According to EP Water officials, during rain events, many of El Paso’s streets are designed to carry storm flows to stormwater ponds and pipes, which is the case for Sam Snead Drive.

“However, Sam Snead collects storm flows from the larger surrounding area, and sometimes the intensity causes streets to become inundated,” officials shared. “A 2014 rain event that dropped a significant amount of water in the area washed cars and trash bins into the Pico Norte Pond and illustrated the urgency for improvements. This event coupled with new evaluation data elevated the project to become one of the top stormwater priorities to increase public safety and protect homes and businesses in East El Paso.”

In Phase 1 of the improvements, $1.9 million was invested in excavating the Pico Norte Pond. Phase 2 will apply an additional $7.3 million to relocate Sam Snead’s stormwater system underground and increase its carrying capacity.

“Anyone who’s been around this neighborhood knows that the streets can flood when it rains,” said EPWater Project Manager Ryan Stubbs. “This project will move that water off the streets, into an underground tunnel and increase public safety for those who live and travel through here.”

A new 2,200-foot box culvert tunnel is being constructed under Sam Snead from the Pico Norte Pond to Lee Trevino Drive. Drop inlets will be installed in the center of the road to allow stormwater to drain from the street and into the underground system.

The tunnel will have the potential to send over 350,000 gallons per minute of stormwater to the Pico Norte Pond.

“The road right now is configured like a channel, so the water flows toward the center of the road,” said Mark Medina, project manager for Moreno Cardenas Inc. “That’s where all the inlets will capture the water, drain it out of the street, discharge it into the culvert and then into the pond.”

“The public will see some improvements in the center of the street with the inlets, but the majority of the work will be underground,” said Saul Trejo, construction manager for Moreno Cardenas Inc.

EPWater is planning for future stormwater improvements to the area. Designs are underway for another stormwater tunnel along Bywood Drive.

The Bywood tunnel will be able to send another 350,000 gallons per minute of stormwater underground to the pond.

Aging EP Water infrastructure to undergo vital rehab, upgrades

El Paso Water and their construction and maintenance crews are set to embark on several projects aimed at their aging distribution and treatment systems.

“We have begun work on projects to fortify EPWater’s treatment plants’ operational assets and maintain and improve service to one of El Paso’s oldest neighborhoods,” EP Water officials shared.

“We depend on a network of underground pipes, pumps and valves to deliver reliable, high-quality water to our customers,” officials said,  “It’s critical for EPWater to protect our aging water and wastewater systems so we can maintain the highest quality water and services for our customers.”

With 2,806 miles of water lines, as well as 2,326 miles of wastewater lines, EP Water crews mus remain vigilant, as well as proactive to ensure the reliability of the system’s infrastructure.

“Our work continues to replace EPWater’s inventory of pipelines, as well as performing condition assessments and establishing asset management practices to more efficiently replace older pipes with more modern materials that are less prone to breaks,” water officials shared via a news release.

According to EP Water officials, over the past three years, their crews have replaced approximately 115 miles of water mains and 93 miles of wastewater mains, however they add that “much work remains as additional funds will be used to significantly further our progress underground.”

Aside from water and wastewater lines, crews also have plans to improve system reliability with the rehabilitation of water and wastewater pump stations to save energy, as well as furthering their progress on odor control.

Three of El Paso’s wastewater treatment facilities – Haskell R.Street Wastewater Treatment Plant, John T. Hickerson Water Reclamation Facility and the Roberto R. Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant – will undergo major upgrades to improve efficiency, performance and odor control.

Some of the other key rehabilitation projects in both water and wastewater include:
  • Sunset Heights: The historic area, established in the 1890s, is due for more water and wastewater pipe replacements. Several thousands of feet of pipes have been replaced over the past 10 years, and more are planned to improve water and wastewater services for residents.  Because the area sits on rocky terrain, we will work to minimize the impact of construction and any other types of disruptions to customers.
  • Haskell R. Street Wastewater Treatment Plant: Various improvements, including odor-control projects, have helped to extend the lifespan of this historic plant, and more are planned. Built in 1923, the plant treats 27.7 million gallons a day and is due for wastewater rehabilitation work.
  • Robertson/Umbenhauer Water Treatment Plant: The historic plant also known as the Canal Plant, which produces more than 40 million gallons a day, will undergo long-term structural repairs, improvements to the disinfectant handling and storage system, as well as the replacement of raw river water intake screens.
“Please bear with us as we work to address critical projects to advance our water and wastewater system for the 21st century, officials added. “The recent rate increase will help us continue to ensure long-term sustainability as well as safe, reliable and high-quality water and service for El Paso’s future.”

PSB approves 2020-21 Proposed Budget, Rates and Fees; Average increase of $2.81 per homeowner

On Tuesday, the Public Service Board (PSB) approved the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Stormwater and Water/Wastewater budgets at their monthly meeting.

The budget includes no increase in stormwater fees, a 5% increase in water fees, and a 5% increase in wastewater fees.

The combined $493 million budget will result in an average increase of $2.81 per month for the typical homeowner.

“The Public Service Board is constantly searching for a balance between our responsibility to provide our customers with a quality product at a reasonable price on the one hand, and necessary maintenance and improvements to water infrastructure as well as the development of future water supplies on the other hand, particularly given the fact that we live in such an arid region,” said PSB Chairman Chris Antcliff.

“Today, the PSB adopted a budget that minimizes the impact on our customers as much as possible while keeping our community on a path of long-term water resiliency.”

Via a news release, PSB officials said that four priorities are driving the increase to budget and rates.

“Securing our future water supply, system expansion for city growth, improvements in customer services and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. Investments in these areas will support long-term sustainability and reliability for EPWater customers.”

Officials added that major capital projects for the new fiscal year include launching an expansion of the Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant, upgrading our treatment system at the Canal plant in Chihuahuita, and beginning expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant.

Work will continue to complete stormwater flood control projects already underway.

“El Paso, like other cities, sets their rates on how much it costs to provide the service,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “As we’ve needed to diversify our water supply to keep up with growth demands, that cost to provide the service has increased. But we have to seek alternative water supplies to continue as a viable community. Additionally, our budget makes sure that the infrastructure we have in place doesn’t continue to get older and older.”

Via a news release, officials said that, when compared to Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, “EPWater’s monthly charges are the second-lowest of large Texas cities; only Laredo’s water rates are lower.”

EPWater’s rate structure will continue to provide relief for low-water users while charging more for high-water users. Customers using less than 4 ccfs* (2,992 gallons) of water in any given month will receive a waiver of the $11.04 Water Supply Replacement Charge.

Last year, the charge was waived on about 33,000 monthly customer bills.

EPWater will also continue its partnership with Amistad to help low-income senior customers with bill payment assistance, conservation, and money management counseling. Customers interested in these services through Amistad can call at 915-532-3790.

The budgets, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2020.

Auctions bear cash from utility’s trash

Need a dragon head, most recently featured on El Paso Water’s 2018 award-winning parade float? Or how about a small fishing boat, last used to gather water samples at the Jonathan Rogers Water Treatment Plant?

The boat has sold, but luckily, the dragon head is still available to the public on, where EPWater’s Property Control department auctions off used items the utility no longer needs.

Property Control Officer Rudy Vargas and Materials Specialist Luis Nieto know one utility’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The process begins when Vargas and Nieto perform inventory audits across EPWater. Once they are done, Vargas and Nieto usually end up acquiring discarded items from the utility’s 45 departments.

“It’s stuff that has sat at our facilities for many years,” said Margaret Carrillo, Office Manager. “It’s stuff usually left in a junk pile off to the side.”

“We tell employees, “If you don’t use it, give it to us and we may find someone to use it or we can sell it in auction,” Vargas said.

Since Property Control began selling old utility property 3½ years ago, the public auctions have brought in over $100,000 in additional operational funds for the utility, Carrillo said. The auctions have reached buyers across the U.S., as well as in Mexico, Guatemala and Canada. Buyers are usually re-sellers, Vargas and Nieto said.

The hot-ticket items for sale are laptops, personal computers, radios and tools. The items no one wants? Desks and chairs.

“We sold a 1950s-era John Deere tractor to a farmer who came all the way from Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, to pick it up,” Nieto said. “He wanted it for parts, which are hard to find.”

The monthly auctions have become so successful Vargas and Nieto sometimes work on Saturdays to add auctions onto the site.

If an item doesn’t sell after three times, they will scrap it. But items usually sell.

Vargas and Nieto decide the opening bid and let the auction do its work.

“There are times I put an item up at $6, and it sells at $1,000,” Nieto said. “It didn’t sell in a previous auction, but you just never know.”

To access auctions, enter El Paso Water in the search field at

With Phase 1 complete, EPWater provides update on Pico Norte Stormwater projects

The night of Sept. 18, 2014 was an unforgettable monsoon day for residents living in the Pico Norte area, especially for those along Bywood Drive, Escarpa Drive and Pico Norte Road.

The seasonal rains were so rapid and heavy on that particular evening, three drivers and their cars were swept into a nearby storm pond, along with hundreds of trash and recycle bins. Thankfully, the El Paso Fire Department safely rescued the drivers. Since then, El Paso Water has been working to improve flood control in the area.

“We invested $1.9 million in the first phase of Pico Norte Stormwater Pond improvements,” said Alan Shubert, Vice-President of Operations and Technical Services. “The pond can now receive a lot more water from flooded streets.”

The first phase included excavating and expanding the pond, improving the pond slopes and drainage structures and installing a new rock wall perimeter with wrought iron to replace the chain link fence that was swept away by the strong currents.

With the improvements completed by EPWater in 2016, the City of El Paso was able to complete a hydraulic study and a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) application with FEMA.

As a result, over 1,100 properties were officially removed from the FEMA flood zone.

“Phase one will take the water from the streets, but what we are working on now is adding drain lines and drop inlets to pick the water up before the streets flood,” Shubert said.

Phase two of the project will now improve the Sam Snead Storm Drain from Pico Norte Road to Lee Trevino Drive. This is an additional investment of $6.3 million. Completion of the construction is estimated for Fall of 2020. Phase three will improve the Bywood Drive drainage system.

“This project demonstrates our stormwater fees at work,” said Gisela Dagnino, Stormwater Engineering Division Manager. “Our most important goal is to provide public safety, and this project is a perfect example.”

PSB reviews 2020-21 proposed budgets; If approved, increase totals $2.81/month for homeowners

El Paso Water staff presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2020-21 Stormwater and Water/Wastewater budgets to the Public Service Board (PSB) on Monday evening.

“Major wastewater system upgrades along with pipeline extensions and new water storage tanks are needed to serve our growing community,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “To better serve our customers, we are improving our customer service and emergency dispatcher technology.”

The PSB will consider a budget that includes no increase in stormwater fees, a 5% increase in water fees, and a 5% increase in wastewater fees.

If approved, the combined $490 million budget will result in an average increase of $2.81 per month for the typical homeowner.

Four key priorities are driving the increase to budget and rates: securing our future water supply, system expansion for city growth, improvements in customer services and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. Investments in these areas will support long-term sustainability and reliability for EPWater customers.

Major capital projects for the new fiscal year include launching an expansion of the Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant, upgrading our treatment system at the Canal plant in Chihuahuita, and beginning expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant.

Work will continue to complete stormwater flood control projects already underway.

Via a news release, EP Water officials shared the following:

Compared to Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, EPWater’s monthly charges are the second-lowest of large Texas cities; only Laredo’s water rates are lower.

EPWater’s rate structure will continue to provide relief for low-water users while charging more for high-water users. Customers using less than 4 ccfs* (2,992 gallons) of water in any given month will receive a waiver of the $11.04 Water Supply Replacement Charge.

Last year, the charge was waived on about 33,000 monthly customer bills. EPWater will also continue its partnership with Amistad to help low-income senior customers with bill payment assistance, conservation, and money management counseling.

If approved, the budgets, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2020.

EPWater embraces new ways to reduce waste

Recent strategic investments are priming El Paso Water for a bright future in resource recovery at their wastewater plants.

“Expanding on our industrywide reputation in innovation, EPWater is focusing on maximizing our efforts to convert waste into a resource,” EP Water officials shared via an emailed release.

At the Haskell R. Street Wastewater Treatment Plant, which serves Central El Paso, technicians are working to expand energy generation using their co-digestion system project.

“It begins with fats, oils and grease (FOG) collected from local food service establishments,” officials explain. “Liquid Environmental Solutions (LES) will deliver the FOG supply to the Haskell plant, where it mixes with wastewater sludge to boost biogas production.”

Haskell employees use the gas to run boilers, reducing our energy costs significantly. This will allow the plant to produce more heat and power for treatment processes.

Through co-digestion, EPWater is aiming to supplement the Haskell plant’s power needs with the energy from biogas produced onsite. The benefits stretch beyond cost and energy efficiency.

Diverting FOG from landfills to digesters at Haskell also helps our community manage waste more responsibly. Ultimately, we are doing our part to reduce the volume of waste disposed and recover energy from waste products.

EP Water’s efforts don’t stop there, as they are studying innovative treatment technologies for resource recovery at the Roberto R. Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In collaboration with Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center, EPWater recently began a compost pilot project to recover nutrients from solids treatment processes at the Bustamante Plant. Instead of using energy at the plant to treat filtrate – a byproduct of dewatered sludge – the filtrate will be used in the project.

The study uses more than 38,000 pounds of compost material supplied by Las Cruces Utilities. Rows of the compost will undergo batch spraying, using the Bustamante Plant liquid filtrate. The goal is to reduce the amount of filtrate in the plant’s wastewater, with an eye toward the production of an enriched organic fertilizer.

The study’s environmental benefits are immense. Recovering the liquid filtrate reduces energy consumption at the Bustamante Plant, and diverting sludge from the landfill reduces disposal costs and eases the burden on the landfill. The enriched compost will also reduce the need for chemical fertilizers used by farmers.

Early results of the pilot project are favorable, and the possibilities are endless.

With these efforts, EPWater is joining a new generation of wastewater treatment plants, where energy, organics and other resources will be recovered as valuable byproducts.

Ultimately, EPWater’s work will improve the resiliency, reliability and revenue of our utility while delivering on our commitment to environmental stewardship.

EP Water invests to thwart cybercriminals

As warnings of cyberattacks grow, El Paso Water officials share that the organization is diligently fortifying their processes with cybersecurity risk management to ensure their preparedness.

“Cybercrime is the No. 1 threat targeting business and critical infrastructure in the U.S., according to national security experts including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security,” EP Water officials share. “We have been working behind the scenes to analyze our vulnerabilities and develop a reliable cybersecurity risk management program to protect EPWater and our customers.”

With the recent addition of a cybersecurity analyst, EPWater has taken critical steps to further secure operations and customer data.

Information Security Analyst Anthony Buonvino, Chief Information Officer Fred Solano and our Information Technology department urge utility employees – who are on the front lines of cybersecurity defense – to be aware of cyber risks.

Officials say that their current cybersecurity efforts mirror the triad of confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA) – the core of our security model – designed to guide information security policies within an organization.

“Our customers can count on EPWater to improve data confidentiality and guard against unintentional, unlawful or unauthorized access,” officials stated.

EPWater relies on a real-time Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to control water distribution operations remotely.

Company officials add, “Our recent investment in a monitoring system adds a security layer to better safeguard our utility water systems in the event of a cyberattack or other disaster. ”

This new monitoring device uses the utility’s existing equipment but collects and transmits data on a different network from our SCADA system. The technology acts as a SCADA oversight system, helping EPWater’s central control operators monitor levels in our water tanks so utility operations can continue without service interruption.

The SCADA Verification Unit (SVU) has already proven its worth as a cybersecurity solution during power outages.

“Even if our SCADA system is down, the new and reliable backup monitoring system is still tracking tank water levels as we work to restore and return to normal operations as quickly as possible,” officials say.

“Cyberthreats are growing and evolving; addressing cybersecurity challenges puts EPWater in a better position to deliver the reliable, high quality water services that customers expect,” EP Water officials added.

With Silver Springs Arroyo Dam project, every detail counts, including yucca plants

When the project to construct the Silver Springs Arroyo Dam was completed in early October, a unique phase two of the project began.

While the new dam helps reduce flood risk for the area, building it resulted in loss of some natural flora. Neighbors of the project were highly engaged from the beginning of the construction project and voiced concerns about the loss, and EPWater listened.

El Paso Water hired Arcadis U.S., Inc. to develop a site vegetation restoration plan.

The goal of the project is to restore the site to native pre-construction vegetative conditions and to provide a seamless visual into the existing desert landscape.

“We knew during the design of the new dam that we were going to have to disturb a significant area of this natural arroyo, and revegetation would be a necessity,” said Project Manager Ryan Stubbs. “We typically rely on landscape architects to lead these type of restoration projects, but this time we had an ecologist step in and take the lead.”

The two-week project consisted of seeding and manually-planting 5,000 plantings of regionally-appropriate plant species, native to the arid Chihuahuan Desert.

Because the nature of the stormwater project does not allow mechanized disturbance of the soil due to engineering restrictions, all the seeding and planting was done by hand.

The plant selection was also important. Woody or deep-rooted plant species could pose a risk to the soil stability and structural integrity of the engineered levee and spillway surfaces. Therefore, only bare-root and potted plug species were used.

Some of those plants are century plant, Mexican grass tree, stool, Turpentine bush, giant hesperaloe, yucca (red, banana and soaptree), four-nerve daisy and creosote bush.

EPWater and Arcadis will monitor the area for a period of one year to ensure the revegetation is successful. The key to success can be pinpointed by evaluating seed germination, checking for survival of potted plugs, observing the natural arrival of new plants and species within the basin and through a visual inspection of the overall vegetation ground cover.

Also, to ensure the continued growth of the desert landscape, there will be regular monitoring and manual removal of invasive plant species. Invasive, non-native species can quickly decimate the restoration and could also have adverse effects to the project’s stability and structural integrity.

Gisela Dagnino, Engineering Division Manager, says EPWater will be observing the success of this process for its possible implementation on other major stormwater projects.

“We have to be mindful of the community, but also of the flora and fauna that we may disrupt. I believe our projects can be successful and beautiful without having a detrimental effect on nature.”

EP Water: The challenges of treating the color, smell of water

For decades, El Paso Water has been using Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) to remove substances that generate color and smell in untreated river water.

But how do you measure which GAC products on the market do the best job? After all, smell and sight are subjective.

Researchers Francisco Solis, Jr. and Juan Canales are working under the direction of UTEP Professor Dr. Anthony J. Tarquin to answer that question in a measurable way, helping EPWater maximize its river water treatment processes.

“We discovered through trial and error that you need 20 parts per million of geosmin, the algae that causes odor, to be noticeable by the human nose,” Solis said. “We started with that ratio, then heated the water because heated water intensifies the smell.”

Solis and Canales ran the algae water through various GAC products that vary by supplier processes, source material and/or granular size; the results showed some were better at removing the odor than others.

Photo courtesy EP Water

To test for removal of the organics that cause color, Solis and Canales used blue, red and yellow food coloring. After running the water through the various GAC products, the samples were put through a spectrophotometer.

The instrument measures the light that is absorbed by the color of the sample and translates it into a number.

The lower the number, the less color is in the water.

Using input from the plant operators, the two researchers are now testing the durability of various GAC products.

Currently, EPWater changes its GAC every three to five years.

But many of the plant operators were convinced that some of the better GAC products could perform well beyond that timeframe.

“They felt that some of the better-quality GAC products could be extremely effective up to 10 years,” Canales said. “So far, the data is proving this theory to be true. We still have several months of tests to conduct, but keeping the GAC in service longer could potentially save the utility and ratepayers millions of dollars.”

EP Water: Summer sandbag distribution schedule begins July 8

Officials with El Paso Water announced that customers can now get sandbags for flood control any day of the week beginning Monday, July 8. The expanded site locations and hours will be available through the end of September.

The summer distribution sites will reopen in the Mission Valley, west, central and east areas of El Paso, and hours will be extended at the Stormwater Operations Center, which is open throughout the year.

Customers in areas prone to flooding are encouraged to have sandbags on hand before most heavy rains begin. The limit is 10 bags per visit.

Customers will need to show a Texas ID or an El Paso Water bill to get sandbags.

El Paso Water does not charge for sandbags. Persons who cannot lift heavy items should be accompanied by someone who can assist with loading and unloading the bags.

Summer Distribution Locations & Schedule July 8 – End of September
Northeast Stormwater Operations Center
4801 Fred Wilson Ave. 79906 (map)
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
West Artcraft Booster Station
7830 Paseo Del Norte (map)
Daily 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Central Haskell R. Street Wastewater Treatment Plant
913 S. Boone St. (map)
Daily 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
East Cielo Vista Booster Station
9428 Daugherty Drive (map)
Daily 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Mission Valley Blackie Chesher Park
9292 Escobar Drive (map)
Daily 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Video+Story: EP Water crews welcome the river

Bursting with the benefits of a winter and spring’s bumper snowpack, El Paso Water is finally welcoming the Rio Grande.

At long last, water released from Caballo Reservoir on May 31 is flowing into EPWater’s two surface water facilities: the Robertson/Umbenhauer Water Treatment Plant and the Jonathan Rogers Water Treatment Plant, said Water Supply Manager Ruben Rodriguez.

EPWater is expecting 16 weeks of river water delivery. A full supply typically lasts 30 weeks while the drought of 2013 yielded a scant delivery of six weeks.

Usually, water would have streamed into El Paso around March, but record low storage levels at Elephant Butte – 3% capacity – late last year forced a water release delay.

“We went into the winter expecting severe drought levels because of the reservoir conditions that we noticed last fall, and then we end up with a historic snowpack – 200% of normal,” said Scott Reinert, Water Resources Manager. “We haven’t had a 200% normal snowpack in 15 years.”

Photo courtesy EP Water

Last summer, the Public Service Board approved a drought resolution for EPWater, which allows for the expedited startup of drought-relief projects. The utility’s well program was expanded to 21 new and existing wells to supplement El Paso’s water supply, while still responsibly pumping to avoid low aquifer levels.

El Paso relies on both river water and groundwater for its municipal water supply. Groundwater supplies are pumped from the Mesilla and Hueco bolsons. River water is supplied from the Rio Grande, which is primarily derived from snowmelt runoff in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.

The flow first makes its way into Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs, where U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials then release it each spring for irrigators and other users in Doña Ana County, West Texas and Mexico. A treaty and interstate compact govern the distribution of waters.

Photo courtesy EP Water

This year’s river water supply comes just in time to help EPWater meet its peak demand when water use soars to about 160 million gallons per day.

This period usually occurs in mid-June when temperatures begin to climb. EPWater’s innovative portfolio of water resources, including desalination, water reuse and conservation, help fill gaps to keep faucets flowing.

To maximize El Paso’s supply, EPWater will prioritize water conservation as it has for more than 25 years.

Conservation is a way of life on the borderland, and as a result, the utility has seen total water usage per person decline by 35 percent since 1991.

“Conservation has to be key to sustainability,” said John Balliew, EPWater President and CEO. Balliew added that a tenet of the utility’s water management practices is to be mindful of El Paso’s location in the arid Chihuahuan Desert.

The recent variance of river flows spotlights the unpredictability of river water supply from year to year, Reinert said.

“Even though we may have had a good snow pack this year, it doesn’t last forever,” Reinert said. “The next drought is always around the corner.”

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

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.

As Summer approaches, EP Water preps wells for demand

As the city waits to receive its shortened river supply in June, El Paso Water is closing in on a May 1 deadline to prime eight new wells for pumping fresh water into the distribution system.

“Every drop of water counts when your city is in the middle of a long-term river drought, EP Water officials shared. “EPWater will supplement El Paso’s water supply by responsibly pumping from wells to meet demand.”

Visitors to a well-equipping event earlier this month were given a behind-the-scenes tour, as crews prepared wells for the water distribution system.

The group was shown well 42A – 705-foot-deep well – and one of eight included in EPWater’s Drought Resolution Program, which was approved in July to allow for expedited procurement for drought-relief projects.

Utility Water Resources Manager Scott Reinert invited engineering consultants from Brown and Caldwell to engage visitors with details about the drought-relief project, which is about 75% complete.

Visitors learned about the multi-disciplined approach necessary to complete a well-equipping project – one that involves civil, mechanical, electrical and structural engineering.

“Hosting an event like this lets people see the efforts from the contractor, consultants and the El Paso Water staff,” Reinert said.

Engineer Joe Moreno of Brown and Caldwell told visitors that Well 42A is a replacement for the old Well 42, which had collapsed and was no longer able to produce water.

“It’s more cost effective to drill a whole new well,” Moreno said. “Rehab can be quite expensive, and if you rehab you are not going to get as many years like you would with a brand-new well.”

“You can spend $200,000 fixing an old well and it may last about five years, or you can spend more money on a new one and it will last 50 years,” Reinert added.

Operation of the 705 foot-deep well will soon be connected into EPWater’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, said Engineer Armando Ramirez of Brown and Caldwell. Once connected, the well will be among the hundreds remotely monitored by Central Control – key to the city’s water distribution.

“Central Control has the ability to stop and start the well,” Ramirez said. “They will know how much flow, the pressure and if there’s an intrusion.”

Utility Engineering Associate Eric Jacquez was among the visitors who said he was happy to gain a wealth of knowledge about wells.

“I didn’t know the process and rules behind building a well,” Jacquez said. “This was educational and worthwhile.”

“I have worked at El Paso Water for a little over 30 years and this is the first time I saw how we search for a suitable location to drill a well, construct and make it operational,” said Oscar Chavez, Engineering Lead Technician. “It’s not as simple as I thought. I believe the public and El Paso Water employees benefit greatly from attending these events.”

Reinert expects to host another similar educational event in the fall.

“It shows what’s involved in water supply projects as well as the teamwork that’s needed to get these projects completed with aggressive scheduled requirements,” he said.

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