EL PASO – Although repair work on El Paso Water’s Frontera Force Main pipelines has been completed and the waste water pumping has begun on the new lines to the John T. Hickerson Reclamation Plant, sewage overflows into the Rio Grande River continue.
El Paso Water explained that 2022 marked an important milestone in the response to Frontera’s wastewater emergency. Within days of the start of the new year, crews began pumping wastewater in the newly replaced pipeline to the Hickerson Reclamation Facility, which had been partially operational since August.
In mid-August, Frontera’s two parallel pipelines were ruptured at several points, forcing EPWater to make the decision to divert wastewater to the Rio Grande.
“Having a wastewater plant not operating at capacity is a rare occasion for EPWater. The company has experienced many firsts following the Frontera wastewater line breaks,” said Gilbert Trejo, Interim Chief Operating Officer.
The Frontera Force Main pipelines, located near Sunland Park Drive and Doniphan Drive, carry wastewater for more than 110,000 Westside residents to the Hickerson facility. On average, the lines carry about 10 million gallons of wastewater each day.
When the Hickerson plant stopped receiving wastewater, opportunities to upgrade the facility opened up. “As soon as we went offline, we started preparing to be ready to start up as soon as we needed to,” said Fred Murillo, superintendent of the Hickerson plant.
Prior to plant startup, operation managers made calculated decisions to gradually pump low volumes of wastewater through the Frontera pipelines and into the Hickerson plant.
“As we test the wastewater lines, we want to make sure the microbes in the plant acclimate to treating more wastewater. We don’t want to shock the system with a full load,” Trejo said.
As wastewater was sent to Hickerson, less wastewater was diverted to the river, about 4 million gallons a day. The intent is that in the next few days, the plant will be treating 17.5 million gallons a day and discharging clean water back into the Rio Grande.
Source: MEXICO-NOW Staff