EPWater ready to welcome full river season

For the first time in years, El Paso Water will welcome a full river season beginning March 8 when Elephant Butte Reservoir opens its gates.
Not since 2009, have we been close to the 60,000 acre feet of water expected this year. The scheduled allotment this year dwarfs 2023’s 38,500 acre feet.
With Elephant Butte at 25% capacity, we are expecting the river season to flow through October – a full 30 weeks. This is welcome news after enduring years of severely reduced river water supply and drought cycles – such as 2021’s short 10-week season and 2013’s 12 weeks.
Our water supply
When it’s plentiful, river water can account for nearly half our water supply. During an abundant season like this one, our community’s river water supply is dependent on bountiful snowpack from Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. The snowmelt flows downstream into Elephant Butte Reservoir, where it is held in storage.
Compared to previous recent February volumes when Elephant Butte capacity was about 6%, current conditions are favorable, showing the benefits of a strong El Niño weather pattern over the winter.
Because of EPWater’s diverse water supply, we have weathered many brief river water seasons, choked off by severe drought cycles. For many years, water reuse has been an effective water management strategy. Reclaimed water is a valuable resource for industry and the irrigation of parks, golf courses and a cemetery. Additionally, we treat reclaimed water to drinking water standards to replenish the Hueco Bolson aquifer.
We count on our world-renowned Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant, which has helped us meet our city’s water needs in times of drought or freeze. With an expansion underway, the world’s largest inland desalination plant will increase production from 27.5 million gallons of fresh water per day to 33.5 MGD.
Conservation continues to be an important tool to reduce demand. We rely on our attentive customers to be prudent as temperatures climb. We encourage watering smarter and sticking to our time-of-day watering schedule.
At our plants
As water slowly trickles into dry riverbeds, we anticipate that river water will flow into our system for treatment around March 14. Our two plants that take in river water – the Robertson/Umbenhauer and Jonathan Rogers – are ready for the season, as well as their hard-working teams. Both plants will benefit from recent maintenance projects. System improvements, such as large valve replacements in waterlines – will also help us move water around the city more efficiently from our plants.
Right in time for river season, our plant teams will also benefit from a recent partnership with the Success Through Technology Education Foundation, Western Tech and the non-profit Trust for the Americas to prepare candidates with introductory skills for jobs in water and wastewater plants.
Select students who graduate from the program March 4 may advance to apprenticeships as Utility Plant Technician Trainees and eventually may secure a plant operator position. Graduates from the first cohort focusing on wastewater have begun their careers at all four of our wastewater plants.
We are ready for the 2024 river season but will meet it with cautious optimism. Because the next drought is always around the corner, we take nothing for granted in the Chihuahuan Desert and have learned to go with the ebb and flow of drought.
Our water supply planning process extends decade after decade into our city’s future. EPWater is well prepared to take on drought with sustainable options that will enable our community to thrive.
Categories: Area News.