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US Officials Turn To El Paso For Its Water Conservation Efforts

The rest of the country is looking at El Paso for something it’s “doing right.”

That’s what a federal government official said when he toured the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant in East El Paso on Wednesday afternoon.

The plant produces about 27.5 million gallons of fresh water every day. The impressive part, said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, is how the plant does that.

“Water is the lifeblood of our communities. Certainly the lifeblood of the country and of the West,” said Salazar. He toured the plant along with Congressman Silvestre Reyes, whose office organized the visit and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor, whom Salazar called “the water master of the United States of America.”

The facility is the largest inland desalination plant in the U.S.

“We’re looking at a decline in water supply of very significant percentages in the Rio Grande basin between now and the year 2050.” Salazar said. “We’re looking at some very tough times ahead.”

He said El Paso officials have not only conserved water, but they manage it efficiently.

“Water conservation measures that are being put into place in El Paso … are pioneering across the country. People are looking to El Paso as a place in which they can learn by example,” he said.

The plant, which is managed by the Public Service Board, takes brackish water in deep ground aquifers and filters it. In times of drought, “you turn on additional wells, which means essentially these very deep aquifers are available as a ground water reservoir which can see you through the tough times,” Salazar explained.

The filtration process pressurizes the water at a molecular level and removes impurities.

The plant

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