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Home | Tag Archives: ep water

Tag Archives: ep water

Video+Story: EPWater Honors ‘The Shack’ Restaurant for Mastering Water-Smart Habits

The Shack Wings & Brews Restaurant has always been committed to saving water, but the owners never thought they would be honored for it.

“It’s a surprise to us, and we’re grateful for the recognition because we believe in conserving water,” Co-Owner Adrian Soto said.

El Paso Water recognized The Shack Wings & Brews, located at 1883 N. Zaragoza, at its 2018 Conservation Hero event at the El Paso Chihuahuas’ baseball game.

“Of all the restaurants here in El Paso, to come out on top… wow,” General Manager Jaime Garcia said. “It’s a good feeling.”

The Shack – as well as 52 other restaurants – were screened and evaluated to become Certified Water Partners. Criteria included the responsible disposal of fats, oils and grease to protect wastewater systems, water efficient faucets, toilets, washing machines and more.

“The more water efficient products used, the bigger the point value,” said Norma Guzman, EPWater Water Conservation Specialist. “We tally up all those points and if they’ve reached a certain benchmark, then we can certify them as a partner.”

Based on scoring, The Shack ranked the highest in terms of water conservation.

Garcia has been in the restaurant industry for over 30 years and attributes the restaurant’s success to foresight and attention to detail.

“We were willing to spend a little more money to buy the commodes,” Garcia said. “We considered whether it would help us save money in the long run, and as you can see it paid off.”

Garcia said leaking faucets also have to be addressed immediately. “It’s amazing how much water you can lose with just one leaking faucet.”

For restaurants considering becoming a Certified Water Partner, Soto said, “Do your part to conserve. Every little thing counts. I thought I was the small guy in the industry, and we made an impact.”

Though restaurants can see an immediate return on water bill savings, conservation also helps ensure a sustainable water supply for El Paso’s future.

“It shows a partnership, that we’re all in it together – it’s not just residential and individual people,” Guzman said.

For more information, visit EPWater’s Conservation Heroes and Certified Water Partner pages.

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 Rolls out New Technology to Help Maintain Water Infrastructure

Technology is making waves at El Paso Water, as the utility modernizes for the future by embracing robotic crawlers and emerging  and ‘trenchless technologies’ that are changing the way crews manage El Paso’s aging infrastructure.

EPWater officials say their push for modernization comes, in part, from “strategic directions prioritized in our 10-year Strategic Plan.”

“We are committed to improving El Paso’s water and stormwater infrastructure, and modernizing equipment and technologies that contribute to increased efficiencies and productivity.”

Stormwater operations employees rave about the new MiniDozer, which can carry a half-ton of debris and do the work of a six-person crew to clear waterways. The MiniDozer also makes it safer for Stormwater employees who work year-round to keep systems free of debris.

Now a crew of three workers, with one operating the MiniDozer via a remote control that resembles a video game control with joysticks, does the work of a crew of six workers with wheelbarrows and shovels.

Another innovative tool is the ‘G3 crawler,’ which uses electromagnetism to detect potential breaks in EPWater’s major water mains. The tethered robot crawls along the bottom of a water line, recording video for inspection of the pipe’s interior.

With the G3 Crawler, speed and cost savings are paramount.

“The cost-effective technology allows our crew members to get to the root of problems quickly and avoid service disruptions. The remote-controlled robot can pinpoint problem areas, helping crews to avoid costly replacement of entire pipes,” officials stated.

EPWater employees also consider trenchless technologies another low-impact and money-saving option to repair our stressed infrastructure. In recent projects, the utility has employed pipe bursting and Insituform.

• In pipe bursting, specialized equipment pulls a bullet-shaped metal cone through the old pipe, bursting it along the way. The new pipe is fed through the space, and the shards of the old pipe are safely left buried. The process only requires digging up a small area on either end of the pipe, substantially decreasing road closures. The process is twice as fast as the traditional cutting method and offers a 30 percent cost savings.

• Insituform uses cured-in-place pipe technology – a pipe within a pipe – with little to no digging. This more environmentally friendly technology has renewed pipelines beneath interstates and busy roadways without disrupting traffic. This technology was recently used to replace a collapsed stormwater pipe on Belvidere Street in west El Paso.

“EPWater’s technological toolbox will continue to grow as we explore innovative techniques to best serve customers, manage facilities and fund infrastructure improvements,” officials added.

El Paso Water’s ‘Certified Water Partner’ Program Rolls into 2018

In May of 2017, El Paso Water started a new program that allows local businesses to become a Certified Water Partner and showcase El Paso Water’s recognition of their water conservation efforts.

“It’s a constant reinforcement of water conservation,” said Norma Guzman, a certified water specialist for El Paso Water. “It shows a partnership, that we’re all in it together. It’s important to go beyond just conserving water at home.”

These businesses have met best practice criteria such as installing water efficient kitchen equipment, faucets, and toilets, while protecting wastewater systems with responsible fats and grease disposal.

Tabla is one of the newest businesses to be certified, and Sous Chef Jason Lucero is thrilled at the progress they’ve made in the kitchen.
“We’re always able to turn on a faucet without knowing exactly how much water we’re using, and being more conscious of it has helped how much we waste,” said Lucero.

EP Water officials add that for a business to become a Certified Water Partner, they must be local, have their own meter, utilize best practices for water efficiency and have a responsible fats and grease disposal system.

With 25 partners since the start of the program, Guzman said she’s happy with the positive impact the program is having on the community. In addition to recognizing restaurants that have good practices in conservation, El Paso Water also advises restaurants that don’t meet criteria how they can do even more to save water by helping them develop a plan of action to qualify for certification.

“We’ll come back at no charge and at their convenience. We clearly tell them where they missed the mark, what they need to do. We’re happy to go back to see progress and whether they have done what it takes to be certified, because we want them to save water,” said Guzman.

She stresses that all the information gathered during inspection for certification is kept confidential and at no time involves enforcement or penalties of any kind. Participation is strictly voluntary.

Photos of all Certified Water Partners are posted and tagged on El Paso Water Facebook and Twitter pages at least a few times a year. A short video also features some of the Partners. The publicity aims to publicly recognize these restaurants for their efforts, with hopes that other will follow.

More information on the program can be found online  by selecting the conservation tab, and then clicking on the Certified Water Partner logo.

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.

 

EP Water: Sandbag Distribution Program will Move to Regular Schedule

El Paso Water announces that the last day to pick up sandbags at the satellite distribution sites will be Sunday, October 1 at 8pm. Seasonal satellite sites will reopen next summer.

The Stormwater Operations Center, located at 4801 Fred Wilson, is open throughout the year.

EP Water officials remind customers that they can get sandbags Monday through Friday between 8AM – 4PM beginning Monday, Oct. 2nd.

Sandbags are for flood control purposes only and limited to 10 sandbags per visit.

People who have difficulty lifting heavy items are encouraged to come with someone who can assist with loading and unloading.

Sandbag Distribution Sites
Through Oct. 1 Beginning Oct. 2
Northeast Stormwater Operations Center

4801 Fred Wilson Ave. (map)

Mon-Fri: 8AM-8PM

Sat-Sun: 2PM-8PM

Mon-Fri: 8AM-4PM

Sat-Sun: Closed

West Artcraft Booster Station

7830 Paseo Del Norte (map)

Mon-Sun: 2PM-8PM Closed
Central Haskell R. Street Wastewater Treatment Plant

913 S. Boone St. (map)

Mon-Sun: 2PM-8PM Closed
East Cielo Vista Booster Station

9428 Daugherty Drive (map)

Mon-Sun: 2PM-8PM Closed
Mission Valley Blackie Chesher Park

9292 Escobar Drive (map)

Mon-Sun: 2PM-8PM Closed

 

EPWater Employees, Sponsors Raise $55K for Opportunity Center for Homeless

For Yesenia Castro, it was the bittersweet culmination of a months-long labor of love when the 2017 El Paso Water Charity of Choice chairwoman presented a check for $55,000 to the Opportunity Center for the Homeless.

The money from the EPWater employee fundraising campaign will benefit the center’s La Casa de las Abuelitas, which houses single women ages 55 and older at 1318 Myrtle Ave.

The campaign bested the original utility goal of $40,000 and the previous years’ efforts.

“I just want to say thank you,” said Ray Tullius, co-founder of the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, during the check presentation. “It’s amazing to see the spirit of the organization; you don’t see that in a corporation. We saw passion all through these events, and I just thank you so much for the spirit that you focused on our operation.”

Since 2009, EPWater employees have raised more than $275,000 for local charities. Past partners have included the Salvation Army of El Paso, USO and the Children’s Grief Center of El Paso.

The process began in January when the Charity of Choice committee of employees met to select a local nonprofit organization as the beneficiary. The check presentation was part of Wednesday, September 13th’s Public Service Board meeting.

Once their choice was approved by the PSB, the fundraising campaign kicked off in February with a flurry of events organized by employees, which included a fishing derby, a karaoke standoff and a sand volleyball tournament. Events wrapped up in late August with a golf tournament, sponsored by Touchstone Golf, that raised a portion of funds.

“I loved the experience,” said Castro wistfully, about seeing the campaign end. “It’s been very rewarding and really fun seeing people get involved.”

Some of the events even featured a few of the abuelitas, or grandmothers, from the shelter.

Now that the Charity of Choice campaign is over, Castro is hopeful that EPWater employees will recall the mission accomplished for La Casa de las Abuelitas.

“I hope people will not forget about the Opportunity Center for the Homeless,” Castro said. “Whether they can volunteer or donate, justspreading the word is extremely helpful.”

Horacio Martinez, Stormwater General Services Lead Worker, said it was his third year being involved with Charity of Choice and that it was a pleasure being a part of the committee this year.

“Sometimes we complain about our situations, but now we really know there are people that need even the basic things in their lives,” he said.

For more information on the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, please click here.

EP Water Set to Close Portions of Scenic Drive for Stormwater Project

Starting Monday, August 14, El Paso Water will close Scenic Drive from Wheeling Avenue to Alabama, to all traffic for several weeks to complete the next phase of the Kentucky Dam stormwater improvement project.

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.

Short sections of neighboring streets will be restricted to local traffic during construction:

  • Streets between Scenic Drive and Alabama
  • Streets between Wheeling Avenue and Altura Avenue

Drivers will still be able to enter and exit Scenic Drive by detouring around the closure on Alabama Street and turning north onto Wheeling Avenue.

Singapore Utility Officials Tour EP Water Facilities

They are worlds apart, but El Paso Water shares common ground with their counterparts in Singapore in water reuse developments.

Three representatives of PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, visited Monday to discuss El Paso Water’s advances in water treatment processes and to tour the Fred Hervey Water Reclamation Plant, 11700 Railroad.

“Largely, Singapore is viewed as a leader in water reuse across the world, so for them to come to El Paso and to want to learn from us is a real honor,” said Gilbert Trejo, utility chief technical officer.

Dr. Mong Hoo Lim, (from left) Jireh Yew and Ervia Huang of PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, tour the Fred Hervey Water Reclamation Plant, 11700 Railroad Drive, and learn about the plant water purification processes from Martin Ortiz, assistant superintendent.

Dr. Mong Hoo Lim, chief specialist of PUB Water Quality, microbiologist Ervia Huang and Jireh Yew, senior planner, exchanged information with El Paso Water about their water reuse programs, Trejo said.

“Our visit was very informative, and we had a great time,” Huang said.
PUB officials, including Lim, first visited EPWater in 2015 to seek information on reclaimed water.

“We learned that there really are some differences in how we are both approaching water reuse,” Trejo said.

El Paso Water frequently fields inquiries from other national and international utilities, often seeking information not only about water reuse, but the methods in which the company provides water to the City of El Paso.

EPWater officials welcome those requests and see opportunities to learn from others.

“All of these water companies and utilities across the world are just trying to provide clean drinking water to their customers and their residents, so we are all in the same boat,” Trejo said. “There is like a brotherhood between all of us.”

“We freely share information because they could take something that we are doing, advance it and come back and teach us what they did with our information,” he added.

Author: Martha Koester – EP Water, Internal Communications Coordinator 

El Paso Water Receives $150K for Aquifer Recharge Feasibility Study

El Paso Water received notice last week that it will be awarded $150,000 in funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for developing a feasibility plan to increase its aquifer recharge efforts by six-fold.

The proposed plan will make El Paso’s water supply more resilient to drought and help preserve the Hueco Bolson for future generations.

Public Service Board Chair Henry Gallardo previewed EPWater’s expansion plan Friday as part of his keynote speech at the 7th Annual WateReuse Texas Conference, hosted here in El Paso this year. “By redirecting excess river water supplies to our Hueco Bolson aquifer in non-drought years, we can put additional water supplies in the ‘bank’ so that we can make necessary withdrawals during times of drought.”

Local aquifers serve as El Paso’s most dependable source of water, but long-term sustainability calls for limiting reliance on this source.

Water from the Rio Grande provides El Paso’s water source during the other half of the year but can be subject to drought conditions. During droughts, river water can be reduced from a six month supply to a mere weeks or few months. This requires an increase in aquifer pumping to meet water demands, placing heavy stress on the aquifers.

EPWater’s current aquifer recharge program began 30 years ago at the Fred Hervey Water Reclamation facility to help stabilize declining aquifer levels. Over the last 30 years, the utility has replenished the Hueco Bolson with over 26 billion gallons of wastewater that is transformed into drinking water at the Fred Hervey facility.

“In the coming decades, we will continue to face drought cycles, and some of those years may be severe with little or no river flow,” said El Paso Water President and CEO John Balliew. “The proposed strategy to increase aquifer recharge from 977 million gallons per year to 5.5 billion gallons per year could be a game-changer for the Hueco Bolson aquifer and for El Paso.”

Odor Control Remains an Essential Focus for El Paso Water Crews

Odor control can be challenging for wastewater facilities, especially for those in the heart of metropolitan areas, and some Central El Paso neighbors have complained about the smell.

To that end, El Paso Water (EPW) has prioritized infrastructure rehabilitation, allocating nearly half of the construction funds in this year’s budget to modernization and upgrades, including ongoing projects at the Haskell Street plant.

The Haskell R. Street Plant, located on Delta Drive south of the County Coliseum, began treating wastewater in 1923. Since it opened, EPW has expanded the plant to serve the area’s growing population and upgraded the equipment to keep pace with regulations.

And while passers-by won’t notice much activity from the outside, inside crews are replacing older equipment, upgrading facilities and accelerating maintenance to increase odor control.

EPW crews noticed significant improvements in air quality after replacing one of the clarifiers – the equipment that removes solids during the wastewater treatment process. The new clarifier removes odors with bacteria rather than chemicals, so the switch also increases worker safety and reduces chemical and operating costs.

Construction will continue for several years as we continue with upgrades that modernize the Haskell Street plant.

John Balliew, P.E., President/CEO of El Paso Water says, “We thank the public for their patience during these upgrades; customer service remains at the forefront of our mission to provide vital water, wastewater and stormwater services. In this spirit, we work hard to build relationships in our community and to be a good neighbor.”

“If you detect an odor, please be assured we are working as efficiently as possible on system repairs and upgrades to minimize impacts to nearby neighborhoods,” Balliew added.

EP Water Encourages Customers to Participate in ‘Fix A Leak Week’

The U.S. wastes one trillion gallons of water each year due to minor leaks around the home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A leaky shower head losing 10 drops of water per minute can waste 500 gallons per year.

El Paso homeowner Sarah Guemez experienced first-hand how important it can be to identify a leak.

Back in 2013, she and her husband were surprised with a $400 water bill – nearly four times the usual amount. Initially, they didn’t know why their bill was unusually high or how to correct it.

El Paso Water employees helped them identify a steady stream of water spilling off the roof from a difficult to see spot. They checked their evaporative cooler and discovered a faulty part was preventing the machine from shutting off when its water tank was full.

Taking charge of the situation, they learned about EPWater’s program for reimbursing customers who fix their own leaks. After a quick trip to the store, they had the problem solved. Additionally, they worked with EPWater and had their bill retroactively reduced to normal levels.

“I’ve always been vigilant about leaks. But sometimes they can surprise you,” Guemez said. “I definitely encourage people to take advantage of (EPWater’s) programs.”

Fix a Leak Week, an annual event the EPA hosts for its WaterSense program, aims to educate the public about how to identify and fix common leaks. Running from March 19 to March 25, the week aims to help boost water conservation efforts while helping you lower your water bill.

The EPA has some quick tips to identify a leak in your home:

 Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is used. If the meter changes, you probably have a leak.

 If you suspect your toilet is leaking, add a few drops of food coloring dye to the tank. If the color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you know you have a leak.

 Additionally, periodically check the toilet’s flapper – the rubber plug that is pulled up when a toilet is flushed. If the flapper does not securely plug the hole, consider buying a new one.

 Check your showerhead for leaks and replace it or secure its seam with Teflon tape if you discover dripping.

 Leaky faucets are often caused by a need to replace the rubber washer on the turn handle.

Author: Josh Moniz – EP Water

Water Storage Projects help meet Growing Demand, Prepare for Emergencies

The severe freeze during the Winter of 2011 caused several cascading problems – rolling blackouts and frozen, broken pipes – all contributing to El Paso Water facilities’ impairment and similar damage all across El Paso. This, in turn, emptied reservoirs faster than they could be filled – leaving some customers without water.

Since the freeze, El Paso Water has installed backup generators at critical facilities and insulated boxes that keep instrumentation from freezing. New instrumentation provides greater control of water storage facilities when the weather is extremely cold. The latest projects underway to ensure water reliability are new, soon-to- be-completed water reservoirs.

“When the pipes began to thaw [from the 2011 freeze], there was a big demand for water, and our system was in short supply,” says Francisco Martinez, utility engineer.

Completed Airport reservoir in east El Paso
Completed Airport reservoir in east El Paso

Martinez is the project leader of the new Airport Reservoir, a water storage tank that will work in tandem with an existing 4-million- gallon reservoir to meet demand during emergencies and peak hours. With El Paso’s population increasing – and expectations for 40 percent growth by 2040 – the reservoir will become an important resource to help meet that demand.

“The purpose of these reservoirs is to balance the system and provide water to customers,” Martinez says. “Water will flow simultaneously from both reservoirs to the booster station, which then pumps water out into the system. The two reservoirs can also be isolated so they can feed water individually to the booster station. This allows for greater flexibility in the use of the reservoirs to meet demand.”

The new 4.4-million- gallon Airport Reservoir, EPWater’s first pre-stressed concrete tank, will increase water storage and improve service for customers in the Lower Valley. People who travel along Airway Boulevard near El Paso International Airport will notice its distinctive dome roof and attractive landscaping that incorporates a rock wall, wrought-iron fencing and drought- tolerant plants.

“This landscaping is part of EPWater’s efforts to beautify El Paso,” Martinez explains. “With all our new and existing facilities, especially those that are most visible to the public, we are trying to improve the appearance. It’s going to look very nice.”

EPWater worked with RMCI, Inc. and AECOM on the new Airport Reservoir.

Construction is currently underway for two other water storage projects. The 2-million- gallon Ventanas Elevated Storage Tank will serve customers in the growing far east side of the city, and the 2.5-million- gallon Memphis Elevated Tank will provide additional storage for the central area during drought and emergencies.

Landmark Structures is the contractor and Moreno Cardenas, Inc. the consultant on both projects.

Author: Isabel Rodriguez – El Paso Water

Crews Continue Expansion of Gateway Pond; Capacity Will Prevent Flooding

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.

Workers completing Gateway stormwater detention pond. | Photo courtesy ECM International
Workers completing Gateway stormwater detention pond. | Photo courtesy ECM International

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

WEST SLOPE West
Gateway stormwater detention pond off of I-10 west. | Photo courtesy ECM International

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.

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