EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Water says the smell of wastewater on the Westside of town will get worse before it gets better in the coming days.
El Paso Water contractors made the final connection to the Frontera wastewater line on Wednesday that broke back in August causing raw wastewater to be released into the Rio Grande.
El Paso Water says by Monday people living on the Westside of town will notice an increase in wastewater smell, as wastewater that has been sitting in the pipeline for months is moved.
“The public should experience and probably going to experience an increase in orders emitting from the plant as were starting to use the pipelines again as the treatment plant is going to start up and we start using it again,” said Gilbert Trejo the Chief Operations Officer for El Paso Water.
As for raw wastewater going into the Rio Grande, Trejo says once they start using the new pipe the amount of water being released will decrease.
El Paso Water says 10 million gallons of wastewater would flow through the pipeline, and while broken the only place that could handle that much water and keep it away from the public was the Rio Grande. Trejo spoke about an initial assessment to see the impacts to the river from the raw wastewater.
“We haven’t seen an impact to the wildlife even to aquatic life, the river does not run past irrigation season when they release water for irrigation purposes here in El Paso,” said Trejo.
El Paso Water says the new pipe added is corrosion resistant but that the whole system is about five miles long and a mile and half is being replaced but more needs to be done.
“This mile and a half was the area that was most corroded,” said Trejo. “Because we are concerned about the remaining length of the existing pipeline of that steel material, we’ve already started the design, and a contractor in January will move from this installation to the next of about a mile of pipeline replacement that will continue into 2022.”
The John T. Hickerson Water Reclamation Facility has been operating at partial capacity since August, so the plant will be monitored as low volumes of wastewater are sent in the coming weeks.
El Paso Water does say that their claims department is still working with homeowners and that their legal department with businesses that were impacted by the wastewater when the pipeline broke.