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.
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