EPWater: Wastewater from Rio Grande to be diverted to Bustamante Treatment Plant


Photo courtesy of El Paso Water.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Water officials announced this week they have implemented a mitigation plan to reduce the environmental impact of wastewater being discharged into the Rio Grande.

In March 2020, the Public Service Board declared an emergency and started a two-year pipe replacement project of the wastewater mains after a condition assessment revealed significant corrosion. The new wastewater mains are made of fiberglass, a corrosion-resistant material. The project has been accelerated to be completed in November 2021.

As part of El Paso Water’s new mitigation plan, the wastewater is to be discharged near Doniphan Dr. and Racetrack Dr. through irrigation canals, where flows are to travel approximately 20 miles downstream to the Roberto Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Lower Valley, according to officials.

“We moved quickly on this plan to ensure the wastewater does not go beyond the El Paso County limits”, said Gilbert Trejo, El Paso Water chief technical officer. “The ongoing multi-agency coordination is instrumental in helping the utility get through this wastewater emergency.”

The Riverside Canal is to be used to transfer the wastewater to the Bustamante Wastewater plant for treatment. The treated water will then be discharged into an irrigation canal managed by the El Paso County Water Improvement District Number 1.

According to El Paso Water officials, efforts to disinfect and deodorize the ponds near Doniphan Drive and Sunland Park Drive are winding down and wastewater levels have decreased significantly after repairs were completed to one of the Frontera Force Mains, last week. El Paso Water crews will begin to remove topsoil from the affected ponding area.

Until the new pipeline connection is made, El Paso Water will continue to release some wastewater to the Rio Grande for several miles before it is diverted and conveyed to the Bustamante Plant for treatment, officials said.

The utility cautions the public to continue to avoid all contact with river water from the Paisano and Racetrack area to the Lower Valley.

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