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EPWU reassures customers their drinking water is safe


POSTED: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 6:45pm

UPDATED: Friday, January 11, 2013 - 6:26pm

Some East El Paso residents are concerned that a multi-million dollar sewage repair system is contaminating their water.

We first brought you the story yesterday. Tonight, El Paso Water Utilities says their repairs are safe and do not affect drinking water.

Yesterday, a customer captured video on his iPhone of what appears to be EP Water Utilities dumping wastewater into a manhole. This worried some residents that their drinking water was contaminated and would make them sick. But the water company says the practice is common when repairing sewage lines

"The man hole covers that we were putting the wastewater back into have nothing to do with the drinking water supply. that's strictly a waste water collection system," said Martin Bartlett, spokesperson for EPWU.

EPWU says they want to make sure service isn't bothered by pipe construction. So, the company uses vacuum trucks, like the one in the home video, to move wastewater from one place to another.

"This was water that was taken out of the wastewater system upstream from those repairs and re-inserted into the wastewater system downstream. So we took water out of the wastewater system and put it back into the wastewater system," said Bartlett.

The water company says they've been warning residents these repairs were going to happen for quite some time. They even held a community meeting to explain to neighbors how the process works, and to reassure them their drinking water wouldn't be harmed.

"We really encourage people to, if you get something in the mail, if you see something on your door, on the back of your bill, mentioning a community meeting surrounding a project in your neighborhood, we really want you to go ahead, take the time to get involved and make sure we know what your concerns are before the project gets started," Bartlett said.

Sewage water is transported to wastewater treatment plants and cleaned. Eventually, most of it is put back into the Rio Grande.

"There's absolutely no reason to be concerned about contamination," said Bartlett.

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