Aquifer Storage & Recovery

 

Water reservoir

El Paso developed the first Aquifer Storage & Recovery (ASR) facility in Texas in 1985.

The Fred Hervey Reclamation Plant treats wastewater effluent to drinking water standards and uses that water to recharge the aquifer. Other highly treated effluent from the plant is reclaimed for industry and irrigation purposes.

This ASR system has successfully recharged the Hueco Bolson aquifer with billions of gallons of water, which helps to stabilize aquifer levels and contribute to long-term management of the resource.

Historically, the utility used deep injection wells as a recharge method, but research in the last decade showed that infiltration ponds offer a more economical alternative with costs savings in construction as well as operations and maintenance. Since then, EPWater has constructed four infiltration ponds and reduced its dependency on injection wells.

Future ASR to enhance water supply

EPWater has long considered expanding ASR operations. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation approved a feasibility study for a project to expand use of ASR using a combination of reclaimed water and treated river water.

During irrigation season, EPWater holds water rights that help meet peak summer water use. When the utility does not need its full allotment of river water – often in the weeks or months leading up to and following the peak periods of water demand – there is an opportunity to use at least a portion of that water to replenish the aquifer.

The project will move into the design phase in 2020 and is expected to be constructed in two phases:​

  • Phase One includes a pump station enhancements and a pipeline;
  • Phase Two includes an enhanced arroyo that will facilitate the transport of reclaimed water and will provide 10-25 acres of wetland habitat in the Chihuahuan Desert to benefit several listed and endangered species.

The ASR project is an important new water supply strategy that will help El Paso manage drought, provide for new future homes and businesses, and enhance long-term sustainability.

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