Frontera Wastewater Emergency

Main break at Doniphan CircleInitial Pipeline Breaks: On August 13, major wastewater pipelines in West El Paso broke in two places. The pipelines, called the Frontera Force Mains, are located near Sunland Park Drive and Doniphan and carry wastewater from more than 110,000 Westside residents to the Hickerson Water Reclamation Facility. On average, the pipes carry about 10 million gallons of wastewater every day.

Crews Tackle Repairs: Crews worked around the clock, and at times knee-deep in wastewater to make repairs and remedy the situation. With continuous wastewater flows, difficult terrain, and pipes buried up to 20 feet deep, crews faced tremendous challenges and complications during repairs.

Homes and Businesses Impacted: The pipe breaks initially caused a backup of wastewater that came up through manholes and emerged in some homes in a low-lying Upper Valley neighborhood. EPWater began releasing wastewater into surrounding ponds to avoid further backups and reduce impacts to homes and businesses. Homes and businesses in the area have continued to experience odors and some traffic disruptions due to repairs underway. EPWater is disinfecting and deodorizing ponds and other areas impacted by wastewater to reduce odors.

Environmental Impacts: Additional breaks forced EPWater to make the difficult decision to divert wastewater to the Rio Grande in late August. EPWater reported the initial wastewater emergency to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and has maintained regular contact with the agency throughout the process.

Broken wastewater line.Health and Safety Caution: EPWater will continue to release some wastewater to the riverbed near Paisano Drive and Racetrack Drive for several miles before it is diverted and conveyed to the Bustamante  and Haskell Plants for treatment. From that point and going south, the public is advised to avoid contact with the river water. The public drinking water supply was not impacted.

New Pipeline Replacement Accelerated: While repairs and cleanup efforts continue, an emergency pipeline replacement has been accelerated. In March 2020, EPWater started a two-year replacement project of the Frontera Force Main after a condition assessment revealed significant corrosion. The new wastewater main is made of fiberglass, a corrosion-resistant material. What was supposed to be a March 2022 completion is now estimated to be completed in December 2021.

Emergency Repairs to Frontera Force Main
Replacement of 1.2 Miles of 36" Force Main
Frontera Line Map




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