Keeping water flowing during rehabilitation

Keeping water flowing during rehabilitation
Posted on 02/23/2023
Located near Hornedo Middle School, the High Chaparral Reservoir was ready for rehabilitation after more than three decades in use.

El Paso Water is investing more than $3 million in ensuring a linchpin of the Westside water system continues delivering drinking water to residents in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains.

Tucked into an arroyo near Hornedo Middle School, the High Chaparral Reservoir was built in the early 1990s. It was ready for rehabilitation after more than three decades in use. Repairs include replacing the tank’s steel roof and floor and recoating the walls of the tank.

But this reservoir does more than just store water, explained Veronica Galindo, Water Production Manager for EPWater.

“High Chaparral also has five pumps that take water from the storage tank and pump it to the Thunderbird Tank up the mountain. So those pumps are providing service to all the residents in those higher elevations,” she said.

Moving millions of gallons of drinking water up into the western slopes of the Franklin Mountains is challenging enough. It becomes even more challenging when this key piece of drinking water infrastructure must be taken offline for rehabilitation work.

Taking the High Chaparral tank offline meant finding a new way to supply water to customers further up in elevation. Without any water in the tank during the rehabilitation, the pumps at High Chaparral are instead pushing water from the rest of the system up the mountain to serve customers.

It’s a complex change in a finely-tuned system that isn’t as simple as flipping a switch.

“We had to make sure the customers in the service area above the tank would still have adequate water supply and adequate water pressure,” Galindo said.

Once it was clear the solution could supply enough water with sufficient pressure, work began on the rehabilitation project.

But gravity isn’t the only force making this project challenging; so is time. EPWater is focused on bringing the tank’s 3.5 million gallons of storage capacity back online before water use increases during the hot summer months. The project is scheduled for completion in May, according to Galindo.

Galindo adds, while there are many unique challenges associated with this project, they don’t detract from the value and importance of proactively completing rehabilitation projects.  “You save money on your rehab and maintenance and that’s ultimately passed on to the ratepayers,” Galindo said. “The more preventative we can be, the less we interrupt customers.”

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