Frontera Replacement Line complete

Crews will now begin commissioning wastewater lines and plant for several weeks

 EL PASO – The final connection of the replacement of the Frontera wastewater line was made Wednesday afternoon by El Paso Water contractors. With the new pipeline connected, the commissioning process begins, which includes a start-up phase of a few weeks to check the new line and to ensure the John T. Hickerson Water Reclamation Facility is ready for larger wastewater flows.

“In recent weeks, contractors once again increased their workforce and worked through weekends to make sure the connection was completed by the end of the year,” said Gilbert Trejo, Interim Chief Operations Officer. “This is a huge step for the utility and most importantly for the community to have a reliable wastewater system they can depend on.”

Since August, the Hickerson Plant, which typically takes in the wastewater from the Frontera Force Mains, was partially operational. EPWater will start monitoring the intake of wastewater to ensure the plant will perform well with the full volume of wastewater flows. This process will result in strong odors in the next couple of weeks as wastewater that has been trapped in lines for months is moved into the plant. The Hickerson Plant is located near Interstate 10 and Executive Center Boulevard.

Wastewater discharge to the Rio Grande will decrease in the coming weeks, but it will not be halted completely until the Hickerson Plant is in full operation.

Over the next several weeks, residents can still expect to see construction work in the Doniphan Dr. and Sunland Park Dr. area as crews repave streets and restore sidewalks and landscaping.

“From the contractors to several local suppliers that have helped us get to this point, we can’t say enough about all the hard work invested into making this right,” Trejo said.

EPWater has hired outside consultants to conduct investigations into the cause of the wastewater line breaks and to assess impacts to the Rio Grande and recommend environmental mitigation strategies. The utility will continue to cooperate with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Background: EPWater proactively started remediation work at the Frontera Force Mains in 2020.  Beginning on August 13, 2021, when the remediation work that began in 2020 was 60% complete, the utility experienced multiple breaks to the Frontera Force Mains. On average, the lines carry about 10 million gallons of wastewater from West El Paso every day. Additional breaks – and wastewater backups in a low-lying Upper Valley neighborhood– forced EPWater to make the difficult decision to divert wastewater to the Rio Grande. The utility reported the initial wastewater emergency to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and has maintained regular contact with the agency throughout the process.

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