Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Leasing of Lands at Fort Bliss, TX for the Proposed Siting, Construction, and Operation by the City of El Paso of a Brackish Water Desalination Plant and Support Facilities
The Department of the Army announces the availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) evaluating the potential environmental impacts that could result from granting an easement to the City of El Paso, El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU), to use land in the South Training Areas of Fort Bliss for construction and operation of a desalination plant and support facilities, including wells, pipelines, and disposal sites for the residual brine resulting from the desalination process. The purpose of the proposed plant is to treat brackish (salty) water pumped from the Hueco Bolson Aquifer to provide an additional reliable source of potable water for use by the City of El Paso and Fort Bliss. Pumping of fresh water by EPWU, Fort Bliss, Ciudad Ju[aacute]rez, and others has resulted in declining groundwater levels in the aquifer. In addition, brackish water is intruding into the aquifer's freshwater layer and has the potential to affect water wells on Fort Bliss and in other areas of El Paso. A sizable volume of brackish water exists adjacent to the freshwater zone of the Hueco Bolson Aquifer. Desalination of the brackish water offers a way to extend the life of the freshwater aquifer as a source of potable water that is to the mutual benefit of Fort Bliss and the City of El Paso. The proposed desalination plant would reduce withdrawals of fresh water from the aquifer, extending its useful life and intercepting the flow of brackish water to wells that are operated by Fort Bliss. Both Fort Bliss and the City of El Paso have considered constructing desalination facilities to tap into this potential water source. The Army and EPWU believe that building a single desalination plant to provide potable water for both the installation and the city would be more efficient and cost effective than constructing separate desalination plants.