EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) Following severe rainfall and flooding in El Paso Thursday evening, El Paso Water and the El Paso Office of Emergency Management held a news conference on Friday to address the damage and flooding in El Paso streets.
“Last night the Central part of El Paso experienced one of the most intense rainfall events certainly in our lifetimes,” Gilbert Trejo, the Chief Technical Officer for El Paso Water, said.
Trejo said Central El Paso saw three to four inches of rainfall in less than an hour on Thursday other parts of the city saw one to two inches in that same time frame. This lead to the overwhelming flooding that engulfed the streets near I-10 West and Cotton.
“The gateway ponds here behind me did their job in holding up to 50 million gallons of water that were captured from Central El Paso and held them,” Trejo said.
Trejo said there were two new massive retention ponds in the area, one on either side of I-10. The utility said those ponds hold 50 million gallons of water each. Trejo said they did the job but filled completely up with the amount of rain during the storm.
El Paso Water crews were seen pumping the ponds to make room for fresh rainfall on Friday and throughout the weekend.
“I-10 was flooded yesterday down by Copia, that is a site that sill needs more work something we have been talking about for several more years,” Trejo said.
Trejo said they’ve identified somewhere near $650 million dollars worth of projects needed in El Paso, but have only gotten to $150 million dollars worth of those projects.
“Every time there is a rain event that project grows and dollar amounts grow because different parts of town get hit and more issues are discovered,” Trejo said.
The utility said City crews also spent the day clearing the streets from debris and rocks that filled the streets from the flooding.
Trejo said the stormwater fees people pay go towards funding their projects, but said the fee is not at the amount it was initially meant to be.
“We use our customer’s fees to the best we can but frankly, the message to them is we need more to keep up with more,” Trejo said. “They demand a stormwater system that keeps them dry but frankly there’s a funding source that comes with that.”