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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 11:59am

EPWU braces for big hit to city's water supply this drought season

KDBC
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 11:50pm

A growing population and a dwindling water supply make for an uncertain future in El Paso.

"This year, the forecast is going to be very similar to last year, which is to say that it's going to be a severe drought situation," said John Balliew, President and CEO of El Paso Water Utilities.

EPWU says cutting down the amount of water you use is always a big help during the drought season.

For residents like Charles Kennedy, that could mean giving up the front lawn.

"I would rather live than have plants, you know. You got to have water to survive so that's the important thing right now," said Kennedy.

Between 2001 to 2007, El Paso Water Utilities paid customers about $11 million to replace their grass with landscaping that doesn't require much water.

Kennedy didn't know such an offer existed but said the utility company did pay for him to switch out his toilets for ultra-low-flow ones, and replaced his shower heads.

"If that's what I have to do, you know, for the people, that's what we got to do, yes ma'am," he said.

The drought is costing the city a pretty penny - EPWU has had to drill 26 wells in just the last 3 years, and plans to drill 9 more this year - each costing about a million dollars.

Also in the works, an $80 million treatment plant that recycles sewage water into drinking water.

"The resource will always be there - drought or no drought," said Balliew.

Finally, two pipelines, one in the northeast and one in Canutillo, meant to deliver water from the river to communities that need it the most.

It's all part of a conservation plan meant to solve a decades old problem before drought starves the Borderland of water.

For more information on EPWU incentives to the public for water conservation, visit http://www.epwu.org/index.html
 

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