On Tuesday evening, EPWater discovered a manhole leaking wastewater in a non-residential area of West El Paso.
The manhole is located between S. Mesa Hills and Interstate 10 (approx. 100 yards north of I-10). Crews determined the wastewater overflow was a result of a blockage in the wastewater line.
An estimated 24,000 gallons spilled, some of which made its way to a stormwater drain that has an outfall at the river. An estimated 10% of the total (2400 gallons) may have been released to the Rio Grande.
EPWater crews used a plug at a second manhole location to force wastewater to flow into a nearby stormwater dam. As crews work to locate the blockage, more than 100,000 gallons of wastewater have spilled into the fully contained dam.
“Our crews worked rapidly to find a solution to capture the spill in a location away from residential and commercial areas,” said Felipe Lopez, Chief Operations Officer for Distribution and Collection. “I want to emphasize that this was not a line break but rather a blockage, and we are on track to resolve this situation soon.”
No water or wastewater services were affected in the area. The public drinking water supply is not at risk since river treatment plants are not in operation and the Rio Grande is mostly dry.
Crews are working to identify and remove the blockage and expect the troubleshooting and resolution to occur within the next 24 hours.
The following is required language from TCEQ for a wastewater discharge event of this size:
Although it was determined that the public water supply was not affected, EPWater customers or persons who purchase water from another public water supply may contact their water supply distributor to determine if the water is safe for personal use.
Persons using private drinking water supply wells located within 1/2-mile of the spill site or within the potentially affected area should use only water that has been distilled or boiled at a rolling boil for at least one minute for all personal uses including drinking, cooking, bathing, and tooth brushing. Individuals with private water wells should have their well water tested and disinfected, if necessary, prior to discontinuing distillation or boiling.
The public should avoid contact with wastewater or soil in the area affected by the discharge. If contact is made, it is advised to bathe and wash clothes thoroughly as soon as possible.
1 Manhole location of initial overflow
2 Manhole used to divert wastewater to dam