EPWater provides update on wastewater emergency in West El Paso

On Monday, EPWater officials announced that their crews had completed repairs to one of two damaged sewage pipes known as Frontera Force Mains near Sunland Park Drive and Doniphan Drive.

Utility officials say this will eliminate sewage flows into the area’s stormwater ponds that have contributed to significant odors in the surrounding area. The repair will also reduce some of the volume of wastewater discharged into the Rio Grande.

“We have reached a point where we are gradually reducing the impact on businesses and affected residents,” said Gilbert Trejo, CTO of EPWater. “Odors should start to diminish as cleaning efforts intensify. We appreciate the patience and understanding of the community during this difficult time. “

Ponds near Frontera Road, Doniphan Drive, and Sunland Park Drive will be drained. Disinfection and deodorization efforts will continue around the ponds. Together, these efforts should reduce odors and aid in cleaning efforts.

“Due to the corrosion of the second discharge line, we have determined that the best solution is to completely re-route the new replacement pipeline, which is primarily installed in this section and nearing completion,” said Trejo.

In March 2020, EPWater launched a two-year pipeline replacement project after a condition assessment revealed significant corrosion. The new sewage main is made of fiberglass, a corrosion resistant material.

The project was accelerated to be completed in November 2021.

Utilities officials add that until the new pipeline connection is made, they will continue to discharge sewage into the Rio Grande. They also warn the public to continue to avoid contact with river water.

From August 13, the utility suffered multiple ruptures in parallel sewage pipes. This set of pipes collects all of Westside’s wastewater – from showers, sinks and toilets.

On average, the lines transport about 10 million gallons of sewage each day.

Additional interruptions – and sewage back-ups in a low-lying upper valley neighborhood – forced the utility to make the difficult decision to divert the sewage to the Rio Grande in late August.

The utility reported the initial sewage emergency to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and maintained regular contact with the agency throughout the process.

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