El Paso Water Utilities recently awarded two contracts totaling $550 million to a joint venture of PCL Construction and Sundt Industrial Group for system upgrades and construction of new water treatment facilities.

The contracts call for upgrades to El Paso's Roberto R. Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant and construction of the $150-million Advanced Water Purification Facility on the effluent side of the Bustamante facility, supplying potable water to the east and southeast parts of th city,

The city received only one bid for the projects. The PCL-Sundt proposal "met all the requirements, so we recommended award of the contract, which was approved by the Public Service Board,” says Denise Parra, public affairs officer for El Paso Utilities. 

The completion of both facilities is expected in 2030. According to PCL, when operational, the new facility will produce 10 MGD of fresh drinking water, helping El Paso Water Utilities meet the demands of a growing population of a city of more than 600,000. 

The $400-million Bustamante plant project, named after a long-time El Paso water engineer, treats wastewater and returns clean water. Upgrades to the 32-year-old facility are expected to increase flow from 39 million gallons daily to 51.4 MGD and extend the plant's life by 30 years.

“There’s a lot of equipment that needs to be upgraded, a lot of equipment that needs to be made more robust; that way, we can continue to treat the water here at the facility and discharge it into the canal so it can be used for other purposes,” says Gilbert Trejo, El Paso Water chief operations officer. The discharge is used mainly for irrigation in the desert city, which gets an average of 9 in. of rainfall annually. 

The projects are funded by state, local and federal governments, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

The projects are the first for PCL Construction in El Paso. However, for more than five decades, Sundt has worked with the city on several infrastructure projects. Its current project there include an 11-mile widening along Interstate 10, the University of Texas El Paso Advanced Manufacturing and Aerospace Center and the Mexican American Cultural Center.

Last year, the joint venture won the $237-million North Water Treatment Plant Facility upgrade and reconstruction project for Gilbert, Ariz.