National Weather Service says Central El Paso saw 230-year storm; Corps of Engineers to start study in the area

Local News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — One of the El Paso areas hardest hit by monsoon rainfall in July and August was Central El Paso.

According to the National Weather Service El Paso, a weather station in Central El Paso recorded 3.2 inches of rain in less than an hour on Aug. 12.

“3.2 inches of rain,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Jason Laney. “El Paso only gets 8.5 to 9 inches of rain in an entire year — they got a third of that or more.”

Laney said that due to the amount of rainfall, Central El Paso numbers show that it was a 230-year storm.

“We were not expecting a 230-year storm with the National Weather Service,” Laney said. “Even when we started predicting this, none of us have been around that long to see that. Even in 2006, this neighborhood didn’t see this type of rain.”

El Paso Water shared a photo of where the flooding happened in the Central Cebada Watershed, where the NWS was recording rainfall.

Flooding in Central El Paso. Photo by Shelby Kapp.

El Paso Water President and CEO John Balliew said that some of the stormwater structures in the Central area are not up to 100-year-flood standards. However, El Paso Water and the U.S. Army will soon sign an agreement for the Corps of Engineers to start a $3 million study over three years in Central El Paso to improve flood control.

Balliew said the study can result in federal funds being used to improve flood infrastructure in El Paso.

“As a local sponsor, we’ll be splitting the cost 50-50 with the Corps,” Balliew said. “The fantastic thing about this program is once the study is complete, any sort of structures that are based on this study going forward can be funded up to 65 percent by the Corps of Engineers.”

One of the main focuses will be dams located on the Franklin Mountains, which are not up to the 100-year-flood standard where runoff went to Central El Paso neighborhoods during June and August floods.

As for the cost of stormwater infrastructure to residents following the Corps of Engineers study, El Paso Water said that will come from stormwater utility fees.

“The fee — the $4 and change that your typical residential customer puts in every month — from that, we bundle that together and then we use that as seed money to borrow. And then if we get federal money from the Corps, we use that together to build these big projects,” said Balliew.

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