Proactive efforts ensure safe drinking water

Proactive efforts ensure safe drinking water
Posted on 10/15/2021
Airport Booster Station

EPWater uses several treatment processes to ensure water is safe to drink before it is sent to customers’ taps. But that water travels through many miles of pipes before it reaches homes, introducing the possibility of corrosion. EPWater is taking proactive efforts with its newest project to minimize the corrosion of pipes and keep tap water safe to drink.

The utility is adding ortho-polyphosphate treatment units at five EPWater booster station sites throughout El Paso: Airport, McRae, Montana, Nevins, and Northeast. Ortho-polyphosphate is a chemical solution approved and certified by the National Sanitation Foundation/American National Standards Institute Standard #60 for drinking water. This solution provides a coating on pipes that prevents corrosion, reducing the possibility of metals like lead and copper from leaching into the water system. 

“While our distribution system does not include lead pipes, lead and copper plumbing connections can exist in homes and are more common in older homes,” said Water Production Manager Veronica Galindo. “Ortho-polyphosphate protects those pipes and protects our water.”

EPWater uses various water sources, one of which is groundwater. Dozens of wells across the city pump groundwater into the distribution system. However, some wells have low PH, sulfates and hardness that could be considered corrosive. EPWater has been using ortho-polyphosphates at some well sites for many years, and now the focus will be on booster stations.

“The five stations receive groundwater from wells, so instead of injecting at each well, they will be injecting at the booster station that treats the water with chlorine and poly, which then goes out to the system,” said Galindo.

Preventing corrosion is a serious matter for the long-term viability of pipes as well as public safety.

“We recognize that metal pipes corrode over time, which is why we’ve used ortho-polyphosphates for a long time,” said Galindo. “Additionally, we’re required by the state of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to develop solutions toward preventing corrosion.”

Construction of the treatment units will take place over the next six months with the estimated completion date of June 2022.

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