Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Survey the Quarry Now!

Recently elpasonaturally posted about the obscene destruction of our mountain by GCC, the new owners of former Cemex properties. GCC doesn't even dynamite just at night or early morning. They are blasting even during the day. They have no shame.

elpasonaturally has also pointed out the failure of the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Franklin Mountains State Park to do a survey. They complain that it costs too much and do not respond to calls asking them to do so.

Now another expert has said that undoubtedly GCC is encroaching on State Park land. Also, according to this expert, surveys are now done by drones for two or three thousand dollars. Hardly a big price tag.

Survey the quarry now. Stop buying from them. Shut them down forever. They are destroying our mountain.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Click on image to enlarge.

Last Wednesday at the City's Open Space Advisory Board meeting, it was announced that the Hunt arroyo at Bear Ridge had finally been purchased using stormwater money. The purchase has been pending for seven years ever since Rick Bonart and Charlie Wakeem met with Justin Chapman of Hunt at the site. The Arroyo is very popular with hikers and mountain bikers and leads directly into the State Park.

According to Bonart, John Balliew, CEO of El Paso Water, says that there are no immediate plans for stormwater improvement at the site. Keeping the land pristine is always good news.

This past September $185K was made available for a trailhead at the Bear Ridge Arroyo. The hope and expectation is that millions will not have been spent on procuring the arroyo and then doing nothing to build an attractive trailhead. Such is the case with the Palisades where a mere $124 was spent on a sign that is now badly deteriorated. A better example of what can and should be done is the Lost Dog Trailhead built with private-public funding for much less than what the City would have spent to create a beautiful entrance to a prominent trail.

The Chair of the Open Space Advisory Board, Sherry Bonart, says: "Let's hope that the city will step up and use 2012 QOL money to build trailheads at both Bear Ridge and Franklin Hills [another Hunt property up for sale].  It's a travesty to purchase these parcels for millions of dollars and not follow through with the necessary improvements to make them fully available for the public to use."

Not to mention, fully attractive to ecotourists.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Quarry

It's like the title of one of those horrendous slasher films: Scream, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th: The Quarry. Of course I am speaking about the quarry at McKelligon Canyon, the GCC Quarry (formerly a Cemex operation). 

GCC continues to gouge the side of the mountain. Several persons have looked at maps and have suggested to me that the quarry has already intruded onto the State Park. Yet neither Texas Parks and Wildlife Department nor the Franklin Mountains State Park are willing to do a survey. It costs too much. Instead they take the word of the quarry owners.

What can be done to stop this obscene devastation of our mountain? There are many issues involved: mineral rights for the State of Texas, a private company operation, jobs and bidding laws (you can't just ask the City not to buy from the quarry). Perhaps the City can be persuaded to limit their buying from GCC. That may be a good start and would have the added benefit that the City find other means to do landscaping. (I still am incensed that the City's Parks Department paved natural desert paths at the Archaeology Museum with chat quarried and produced at the McKelligon Canyon Quarry.) Perhaps an ordinance banning certain landscaping products? Good luck.

Protests? A PR campaign? What?

I struggle with this. Perhaps some of you have ideas. The GCC Quarry needs to shut down . . . permanently.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Aquifer Recharge Field Trip, Saturday 10/21, 10AM

Celebration of Our Mountains and El Paso Water have scheduled a very valuable field trip this Saturday at 10 AM. Recharging our aquifers is vital for our water supply and for our survival as a city in the Chihuahuan Desert. You will see a critical strategy that El Paso Water uses to recharge the aquifers.

Saturday, October 21, 2017, 10:00 AM
Aquifer Recharge Field Trip

Learn more about El Paso Water’s pioneering efforts to clean wastewater to drinking-water quality standards. EP Water has been using reclaimed water to recharge the Hueco Bolson Aquifer for decades. Hear more about water reclamation from Scott Reinert, El Paso Water’s water resources engineer. Meet at Painted Dunes Golf Club, 12000 McCombs St., inside the restaurant for orientation. Participants will caravan for a short drive to the recharge basins. Expect minimal walking during this 1.5-hour field trip. Bring comfortable shoes, water and a hat.

For more information, contact Scott Reinert, 915-253-2004,

Celebration of Our Mountains on Facebook

El Paso Water on Facebook

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Liz Walsh begins the Kevin Von Finger Speakers Series 10/24/17 at 7PM

Click image to enlarge.

Liz Walsh's talk this coming Thursday inaugurates the 2017-2018 Kevin Von Finger Speakers Series sponsored by the El Paso Group Sierra Club.

The series is named after the late Sierran and ecologist, Kevin von Finger.

October 24, 2017: "What's in a hueco?" - Liz Walsh

November 28, 2017: "Climate change and regional sustainability" - Deanna Pennington

January 23, 2018: "Trash and Recycling 101" - Ellen Smyth

February 27, 2018: "Creating Habitat for Burrowing Owls in El Paso" - Lois Balin
March 27, 2018: "Dude, come on, wolves need a decent life" - Rick LoBello

April 24, 2018: "The role of utilities in renewable energy and sustainability" - El Paso Electric

May 22, 2018: "The ecological and environmental consequences of the 'Wall'" - Paul Hyder

All talks are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7PM at the Centennial Museum at UTEP.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sustainable, Reliable Water

I and my neighbors have been watching the construction of a "mammoth" water tower in our neighborhood. Those of us who live on the mountain side of Austin High School, now see the tower loom over that school. The cool video above was posted on the El Paso Water Facebook page on October 2nd. It tells how these new towers will make water more sustainable and reliable. (How do the people working inside get out?)

El Paso Water's Communications and Marketing, Christina Montoya, sent these factoids to me:

Additional water tanks in specific areas will allow EPWater to meet water demands when some parts of the system may be down in emergency situations.

o   In 2011, frozen equipment and hundreds of broken water pipes caused water tanks to be emptied faster than they could be filled.
o   These tanks will give us the flexibility to move water where it is needed most.
o   These and other improvements will make EPWater more resilient in a power outage or a weather emergency.

Three new water tank projects will accommodate growth in key areas.

o   Memphis Tank will hold 2.5 million gallons of water in Central El Paso
o   Airport Tank holds 4.4 million gallons in the Lower Valley – completed
o   Ventanas Tank will hold 2 million gallons in the far east - completed

EPWater is highlighting these crucial projects to highlight investments needed in infrastructure

o   Water infrastructure is often out of sight and out of mind so it is hard for customers to appreciate and understand it.
o   Investment in water infrastructure is crucial to maintain essential services and ensure public safety.

o   Projects like this are a big part of our efforts to provide reliable water service.

The graphics below show you just how these new tanks work. Just click on them or the title to enlarge.

Thank you, El Paso Water!