Community tours new stormwater structures

Community tours new stormwater structures
Posted on 11/21/2018
El Pasoans tour EPWater's Van Buren Dam in a 2018 stormwater tour.

It is not uncommon for El Paso to receive a year’s worth of rain in a span of several days, and when it falls over the Franklin Mountains the water can bring boulders and debris cascading with it. These are just a few of the obstacles El Paso Water engineers tackle while evaluating and designing stormwater structures.

About 25 people received an inside look at the awesome structures designed to handle the localized, intense rain events El Paso receives.

“This was a great opportunity for us to familiarize ourselves with the great work completed through collaboration between El Paso Water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and private industry to reduce the risk of flood damages in our beloved city,” said Dr. Reza Ashtiani, Associate Professor for the University of Texas at El Paso’s Civil Engineering Department. 

El Pasoans tour the Fairbanks Sediment Catch Basin in a 2018 tour.Accompanying Ashtiani were several engineering students, many of whom expressed awe at the size and functions of the structures.

From dams, ponds, and pump stations to one-of-a-kind structures, EPWater’s engineers took members of the community on a tour of its Northeast stormwater system, featured as part of this year’s Celebration of our Mountains event series.

“The last public tour we held was in 2014, so we wanted to highlight some of our more recent projects like the Fairbanks Catch Basin, which was completed this year,” said Gisela Dagnino, Stormwater Engineering Division Manager. “This basin is a perfect example to showcase the unique type of work we do.”

Prior to the $1.6 million Fairbanks project, monsoon rains over the Franklin Mountains sent rushing water and a mudslide of dirt and debris onto Fairbanks Avenue and surrounding streets, causing safety hazards and costly clean-ups.

The Fairbanks project is a one-of-a-kind structure designed with a three-chamber system to capture dirt and debris from stormwater runoff and slow the velocity of water for street-side conveyance.

El Pasoans tour the Fairbanks Sediment Catch Basin at a 2018 tour.

Another new stop on this year’s tour included the Louisiana Dam at Alabama St. and Nashville Road, a project in the final stages of construction. The dam was originally built in 1948 and is currently undergoing a $1 million improvement project to more effectively capture stormwater runoff and increase its capacity.

Walking through the Northeast Channel #2, participants received an up-close look at a project responsible for helping remove about 5,000 homes out of the floodplain this year. This project is estimated to have saved Northeast El Pasoans $670,000 in combined annual premiums.

The $14.6 million Northeast Channel #2 project lined the three-mile earthen channel with concrete and added culverts to increase capacity, allowing for more water to flow into the stormwater system to avoid neighborhoods, homes and businesses. 

“While we added new locations to the tour, we also kept prior projects because of the large impact they have on the system,” said Dagnino. “The Magnolia Pump Station and Force Main can pump up to 175 cubic feet per second. Imagine about 175 basketballs worth of water passing through the force main every second - that’s significant.”

Other return highlights included the Northgate and Van Buren Dams, which were built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and are maintained by El Paso Water.

El Pasoans tour the Van Buren Dam at a 2018 tour.

For more information about EPWater's stormwater system, visit our Stormwater page.

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