Friday, August 28, 2015

EPWU Premiers New Water Purification Pilot Facility

CEO John Balliew welcomes visitors and gives an introduction to the plant and the need for it.
The El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU) unveiled their new water purification pilot facility at the Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant this morning. More than 60 visitors consisting of the general public, EPWU employees, some PSB members and other officials learned more about the process, took a tour and viewed a video. Their reaction: Wow!

EPWU wastewater plants clean water for use in irrigation and industrrial porcesses and aquifer recharge. Because of drought and low river water allocations, our water utility is pumping more water from the aquifer which cannot be replenished quickly. So EPWU is considering a number of options to ensure water supply to its service district - us. "Advanced Water Purification is a drought-proof sustainable option."

The Advanaced Water Purification Pilot Plant is critical for a sustainable water supply for El Paso's future. 

There are several steps in the process. First, nitrates and nitrites are removed from the reclaimed water. Then solids, bacteria, portozoa and some viruses are removed by a filtration system. Two systems are currently being tested: microfiltration and ultrafiltration. The third step of nanofiltration and reverse osmosis removes dissolved salts, metals and dissolved organic molecules "and other materials many of which are more than 50,000 times smaller than the smallest bacteria or virus." 

The penultimate step removes all remaining contaminants through a dual process of the additon of hydrogen peroxide and the use of ultraviolet light. Finally, water goes through granular activated carbon to remove the last of the remaining peroxide. The result - pure, drinkable water from reclaimed water.

Because the process is still being tested and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality won't yet give the greenlight for the system to be used in the public's drinking water, we couldn't get a refreshing drink of this water today. The day will come when all of us can enjoy this sustainable source of water.

Two thoughts: First, I have a love for industrial plants and for all engineering projects. They are beautiful forms of humanity's ability to solve problems scientifically. Unfortunately, some of our processes have wreaked havoc on the planet. Still I have faith in science and technology not only to make all human lives better but to do so in a way which preserves and protects Mother Earth and all of its inhabitants. This marvelous work of water treatment technology is doing just that.

Finally, and quite sadly, it was obvious that not one single member of City Council was there today in spite of the fact that they were invited two weeks ago. The most critical issue facing El Paso is the scarcity of water. It is good to know that El Paso Water Utilities is leading the way to a sustainable future. I'm afraid that the current City Council is tugging in the opposite direction.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting about the excellent, forward thinking work of our El Paso Water Utilities and Public Service Board. El Pasoans need to gain more appreciation for water - the source of life in our desert.