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EPWU will not increase budget or stormwater fee

By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas The El Paso Water Utilities president gave a brief slideshow presentation to the Public Service Board Monday night, where he proposed to cut the utilities budget and also to not increase the rate of the stormwater fee.

John Balliew presented a fiscal year 2014-2015 budget of $41.8 million, down nearly $4 million from the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget of $45.5 million.

"We've been able to carefully control our operations costs, and devote our resources into finishing up the big master plan capital projects that the stormwater committee prioritized in years' past," Balliew said.

That master plan project, also called the "hundred year plan," is supposed to ensure the Sun City will not deal with flooding issues in the future, and it comes with a hefty price tag of $650 million.

EPWU says a majority of the priority master plan projects have already been completed, but several important projects still remain, and are expected to begin construction next year.

EPWU says those projects are part of a central drainage system that will decrease flooding on and near Interstate 10 with a cost of $21.5 million.

"We have a big pump station that's going to be south of the freeway, close to Texas (Avenue) and Piedras (Street), that will be done with the associated pipelines, and we're building five ponds to try to intercept and detain that water before it gets down to the pump station," Balliew said.

Balliew told KFOX14 that because the budget is shrinking, it frees up money to be used for other high-cost projects.

"We have some big capital projects that have already been planned and designed, we just need to get them built and in the ground, and then we will take a look at prioritizing the next round of projects," Balliew said.

The 2014-2015 fiscal year is set to begin on March 1.

The PSB will vote on EPWU'a budget proposal on Dec. 1.



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