EL PASO, TX – Utility company El Paso Water recently celebrated the groundbreaking of phase one of an aquifer storage and recharge project in northeast El Paso that will maintain and preserve the city’s main aquifer for future generations.
“This two-phase project will protect the Hueco Bolson aquifer, which is the backbone of our water supply. The ASR project essentially allows us to put water in the bank that we can withdraw when river water becomes scarce,” stated John Balliew, President and CEO of EPWater.
The first phase marks the creation of the innovative 2-mile long infiltration facility scheduled for completion in the winter of 2024. The next phase will focus on building the infrastructure necessary to upgrade the Nevins pump station, about 5 miles away, and provide pipelines to the creek, which will pipe excess water from the Rio Grande River in years of abundance.
With nature trails built along a creek and wetlands that attract wildlife, the pioneering project will also contribute to an oasis-like amenity in the Chihuahuan desert for the northeastern community to walk or bike.
Utility Board Chairwoman Ivonne Santiago praised Balliew and the EPWater team, as well as engineering, state and federal partners for helping to fund the innovative project. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation awarded $3 million to EPWater for the innovative water reuse project. The company also received $4.5 million from the Texas Military Readiness Commission from the Governor’s Office.
The project will use stormwater runoff, i.e., reclaimed and treated water from the nearby Fred Hervey plant and excess treated water from the river to recharge the aquifer. When completed, the water storage could contribute up to 15,000 acre-feet of water annually to the aquifer.
Mayor Oscar Leeser stressed that recharging the Hueco Bolson will benefit both the city and Fort Bliss, which also relies on the same aquifer.