El Paso Water: Year in Review

El Paso Water: Year in Review
Posted on 01/22/2021
Thomas Manor Park-Pond was completed last August.

An unforgettable 2020 is in the books. For many, the past year changed the course of daily life; working and learning from home, wearing masks and taking extra precautions to stay safe. A year of challenges was also a year of accomplishments for El Paso Water, as we successfully adapted our business practices to continue to provide reliable water, wastewater and stormwater services to customers.

Critical construction work

Workers at the Canal PlantA top priority in 2020 was to maintain momentum on construction projects at facilities that are critical to provide uninterrupted services to our community. Some of the key rehabilitation work that took place last year included structural upgrades to the downtown Robertson/Umbenhauer Water Treatment Plant and odor control improvements at the Haskell R. Street Wastewater Treatment Plant in central El Paso.

Crews worked through the year on the Upson Drive Improvement Project to replace aging water and wastewater mains with new ones in the Sunset Heights Historic District. In the same neighborhood, contractors worked to rehabilitate the Sunset Heights Reservoir after it was damaged by the tremors of an earthquake last March. Repairing the reservoir is crucial to our infrastructure because it is responsible for holding up to eight million gallons of water and plays a major role in how EPWater distributes water to various parts of the city.

The Montana Vista Wastewater project connected homes to the wastewater system for the first time, contributing to improvements in quality of life for residents in the area. By the end of 2020, 717 sewer lines were installed. Work continues in 2021 on completing connections for more homes.

In El Paso’s Lower Valley, residents were once again able to enjoy the newly-renovated Thomas Manor Park-Pond and Pump Station. Prior to the construction, the retaining pond could only hold about three million gallons of water and the existing pump station was inoperable. Now the pond will collect more stormwater from the surrounding neighborhoods and streets, increasing public safety. EPWater collaborated with Ysleta Independent School District and the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation to also include upgrades to park amenities for residents. Contractors CEA Group produced a video showcasing the before and after of the renovated park-pond, click here to watch.

Meeting water demands

 In 2020, EPWater once again proved its resiliency when daily water use peaked at 170 million gallons in July, a number that had not been seen in decades. The utility was able to meet the demand because of a strong portfolio of resources that includes desalination and water reuse.

Rio GrandeTo strengthen water resources, EPWater launched the design of a new project to take treated Rio Grande water during plentiful years and use it to recharge a local aquifer. The Aquifer Storage and Recovery project will bank water when we have abundant river water supplies and available for withdrawal when river water is in short supply.

In anticipation of a shorter river water season this year, the Public Service Board approved the drilling of six additional wells to increase our groundwater supply as a proactive measure to meet water demands at the hottest time of the year.

Transforming customer service

Last year marked the milestone launch of Program H2GO, a new customer information system that will transform customer care and billing at EPWater. As technology rapidly evolves, the utility is working to improve the customer service experience by decreasing call wait times, expanding self-service options for customers and eliminating manual processes for employees in the field and in the call center. EPWater is investing $22 million in the project set to go live in 2022. Project team members are enthusiastic that Program H2GO will improve customer satisfaction while maximizing efficiency for both staff and customers.

EPWater efforts recognized

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) awarded EPWater with the 2020 Sustainable Water Utility Management Award for exceptional operation and performance, one of nine water utilities recognized across the nation. This is the second time El Paso Water has been honored with the award.

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) awarded EPWater and Parkhill Smith and Cooper a National Recognition Award for the Canal Tunnel Project. The firm worked with El Paso Water to replace transmission lines from the Robertson/Umbenhauer Water Treatment Plant in downtown El Paso. The ACEC also awarded El Paso Water and H2O Terra, LLC, with the National Recognition Award for the Secondary Membrane Treatment of Reverse Osmosis Concentrate project, which improves the freshwater yield from reverse osmosis membranes at well sites.

EPWater’s financial profile was also recognized, earning top notch credit ratings from prestigious firms, like Standard and Poor’s Global and Fitch Ratings. These high credit ratings afford EPWater the opportunity to issue debt for improvement projects at a lower interest rate, resulting in savings for our ratepayers.

The women of El Paso Water continued to make their mark at the utility and recognized for their work. The University of Texas at El Paso awarded Marcela Navarrete, Vice President of Strategic, Financial and Management Services, as one of its esteemed Gold Nugget Award recipients. The award is given to alumni who have made exceptional contributions to their professions and community.

As El Paso Water continues momentum in 2021, we remain committed to serving customers and providing a clean and plentiful source of water to the Sun City.

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