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More work to be done on stormwater system after I-10 floods Wednesday morning

Updated: Monday, September 30 2013, 03:46 PM MDT
More work to be done on stormwater system after I-10 floods Wednesday morning  story image

By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas - Rushing water brought Interstate 10 to a standstill early Wednesday morning, and traffic was backed up for a few hours.

The congestion happened along the main artery near Pierdras. The area became a focal point after the 2006 floods. Since 2006, the Public Service Board has levied a stormwater tax to improve infrastructure and prevent flooding.

Heavy rain moved down the side of the Franklin mountains, chewed threw central neighborhoods and headed towards the Rio Grande. It pooled on I-10, causing danger, backups and headaches for rush-hour drivers.

"We understand people's frustration and people's inconvenience. We apologize for any of that. We want people to know we had our crews out there early this morning," said Christina Montoya, vice president of marketing and communication for El Paso Water Utilities.

Montoya said since 2006, the PSB made several improvements, including the Gateway West retention pond, which captures the water before it makes its way onto the Interstate.

But Montoya said this morning's rain was too heavy.

"It's just too much for it to handle," she said.

That's why more projects need to be done.

"We've always maintained that this central area is probably one of the biggest, hardest problems to tackle for the utility. It's not going to be just one project," said Montoya.

In order for the stormwater system to be more effective, other projects need to be completed in the next few years, including two additional retention ponds north of I-10 and a pumping station south of I-10.

Trash and debris could be seen floating through the floodwaters early Wednesday morning.

Montoya said illegal dumping creates blockages and makes the whole system work less effectively.

"We have a lot of problems with people dumping into the stormwater system. They think the ditch behind their home is a trash can. It's not; it actually serves a purpose," said Montoya.

Meanwhile, Montoya said crews are ready to help move the floodwaters when the Borderland gets hit with its next storm.

Montoya said some of the necessary projects might be completed within the next year or so, and other projects are described as multiyear projects.

More work to be done on stormwater system after I-10 floods Wednesday morning
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