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El Paso water officials say no health hazard posed following wastewater main rupture

EL PASO, Texas -- Officials with El Paso Water are saying that there are no health risks to nearby businesses or neighborhoods following a wastewater rupture on Monday in the area of Sunland Park between Interstate 10 and Doniphan.

According to water utility's vice president of engineering, Alan Shubert, about 28,000 gallons of wastewater was discharged during the rupture.

To put that number into context, a standard 20-foot by 40-foot swimming pool holds 30,000 gallons of water.

But according to Shubert, most of that water was successfully diverted into a nearby retention basin.

“If you look behind me you will see a rock wall with a pond behind it," said Shubert. "It is a stormwater pond. We are using that pond to hold the sewage temporarily, treating it with chlorine so we do not discharge it into the street and create more of public nuisance.”

He added that any waste that flowed down the street was found, chlorinated and sucked into trucks.

Water officials said that the mess was contained by the time rain made it to the area on Tuesday afternoon.

Repair crews have also discovered that corrosion is what caused the 40-year-old steel pipes to rupture and they have an upgraded replacement standing by.

“We will most likely use high density polyethylene which is not going to have an issue with soil corrosion," said Shubert.

But when it comes to getting everything fixed and having that road re-opened, the news is less positive.

“I can’t give you any timeline yet honestly," said Shubert. "We are still working on it.”

Shubert also said that there was no E. coli or other health hazards posed to nearby businesses, however a distinctly unpleasant smell still remains strong around the area and could remain for several more days.

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Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon is an ABC-7 reporter who co-anchors Good Morning El Paso weekends.

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