Importation

 

Long-term planning

El Paso Water is progressing with land and water rights acquisitions that will enable El Paso to continue to grow and thrive for generations. By 2070, the Far West Texas Water Plan projects an El Paso County population of approximately 1.4 million residents, an increase of 75 percent. To meet the 2070 projections, investing in water importation and other strategies will help give El Paso a drought-proof, sustainable supply of water.

The Far West Texas Regional Water Plan anticipates water importation to begin about 2050, but conservation, water reuse and expanded desalination may push that date even further back.

In recent decades, El Paso Water has performed well tests at several nearby aquifers in West Texas, including the Capitan Reef aquifer and the Bone Springs-Victorio Peak aquifer, both of which are accessible from neighboring Hudspeth and/or Culberson Counties.

Though the utility initially focused its importation strategy on both aquifers, its strategy now centers on the Victorio Peak-Bone Springs aquifer in the Dell City area because of the natural recharge capability, making it a sustainable water supply over a long time horizon.

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Timing for land purchases

EPWater has purchased about 57,000 acres of land and water rights in recent years. Most of these purchases have benefited from low-interest loan funds from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program. The utility continues to negotiate with several land owners in the Dell Valley and expects to make other purchases with the SWIFT funds.

"By acquiring this land now and leveraging the SWIFT loan program at a time of historically low interest rates, it allows us to make smart investments and spread out costs to minimize the long-term impact to our customers,” said El Paso Water President and CEO John Balliew.

Total investments for the importation strategy are estimated to be about $600 million, but that includes the pipeline, pumps and other infrastructure needed to bring water from Dell City to El Paso. Buying land allows EPWater to spread out total costs between now and 2050.

What’s next?

Land and water rights purchases in Dell City and beyond continue to progress. EPWater has completed more than half of the expected purchases and will continue to acquire additional properties and rights of way between Dell City and El Paso. However, water importation isn’t expected for many decades. When EPWater does begin moving water, it’s estimated that El Paso’s water needs during peak periods will be about a quarter of the water currently pumped annually for farming in the Dell City area.

“El Paso Water is committed to being a responsible steward of land and water as well as a good neighbor in Dell City,” Balliew said. “We want to ensure the stability and vitality of not just El Paso, but of Dell City, too.”

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