The City of El Paso may receive up to $4.5 million in support for an enhanced arroyo project that will include the expansion of a pump station and building of pipelines to move river water for use by city residents and the Army’s Fort Bliss.
Upon completion, what is called the Enhanced Arroyo Project will be capable of handling 15,000 acre feet annually, an amount triple the size of water currently used by the base.
The project is especially important because, according to city documents, it will serve to prevent the intrusion at Fort Bliss of “brackish water into wells that provide water to the installation, extending the useful life of those wells and ensuring the supply of water for missions, soldiers, and military families.”
If approved, funding for the project will come through the Texas Military Preparedness Commission in the form of a Defense Economic Assistance Grant.
That grant will provide another $4.5 million for the El Paso Water utility company to help complete the project.
By design, the project will stabilize and increase levels in the Hueco Bolson aquifer, which serves as the primary source of water for both the city and the military base.
First phase of the work will see the excavation and building of infiltration infrastructure running along a just-over 1–mile stretch of the arroyo.
The project is eligible for Defense Economic Assistance funding due to the fact that Fort Bliss, which underwent a $6 billion expansion 15 years ago, has experienced the largest population growth of any base in the history of the Defense Department, jumping from more than 9,300 people to around 40,000 today.
Army policy dictates that Fort Bliss must have in place modern utility infrastructure designed to satisfy both its current and future growth needs.
By Garry Boulard
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