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New technology boosts plant's efficiency, increases water supply

The innovative technology unveiled recently by Eviro Water Minerals Co. (EWM) produces fresh drinking water from the salty wastewater produced during desalination. The process, known as Full Recovery DesalinationSM, gives El Paso a new source of water while increasing the efficiency and production of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant.

El Paso City and County elected officials and El Paso Water staff were among those attending the company's April 25 ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new EWM facility was built next to EPWater's desalination plant.

The Hutchison plant removes salts and other contaminants from brackish (salty) water to produce up to 27.5 million gallons per day of drinking water. The wastewater produced by desalination was previously injected into a brackish water aquifer 20 miles away.

99 percent recovery
EWM officials report that full recovery desalination recoups 99 percent of the source water compared to the 75 to 85 percent recovery rate achieved with conventional desalination.

The company removes hydrochloric acid, caustic soda and other industrial-grade products from the Hutchison plant's wastewater and sells the products to nearby industry. EPWater will purchase the water that remains, which will augment the water supply by 2.2 million gallons a day.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality limits the amount of salt water that can be injected into the aquifer. Diverting wastewater to EWM eliminates the environmental issues and cost of disposal and allows EPWater to increase production without exceeding the regulatory cap.