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UTEP students gain real-life experience at El Paso Water project site

For many students nothing is more valuable than learning from real-life scenarios. That’s why El Paso Water and The University of Texas at El Paso have forged a strong relationship that allows students to visit project sites to offer them a peek at work related to water, engineering, conservation, infrastructure and much more.

“El Paso Water and UTEP have done an excellent job at teaching by showing,” said Scott Reinert, El Paso Water Resource Manager. “Professors do a good job at reaching out to El Paso Water to use us as a laboratory.”

Recently, Dr. Ivonne Santiago, a professor within UTEP’s Department of Civil Engineering and appointed member of the El Paso Water’s Public Service Board (PSB), took her hydrogeology class to tour the site of the well drilling. She said she hoped they saw that what they learn in class was not just hypothetical.

“The importance of this is – one, many of these students might end up working for El Paso Water and two, they’ll learn to see the value in the utility company,” said Dr. Santiago. “They’re seeing an example of an exceptional group of people ensuring safe drinking water to the public not just because they have to but because they want to.”

The well which is known as Well 42A is off of McCombs, slightly north of the Painted Dunes Golf Course, and will be about 900 feet deep. Once the project is completed, the well is expected to pump 1.5 million gallons a day.

With ground water supplying up to 50 percent of our community’s water, maintaining and replacing our wells is crucial for El Paso Water. By next summer, El Paso Water will have replaced seven wells built 40 to 60 years ago that have since collapsed. Many of these new wells will be placed within a short distance from the original wells, making it cost effective to connect to existing pipe infrastructure.

During the tour, the students visited with different individuals with varied roles to learn about the region’s water supply, geophysical logging, engineering and drilling operations.

Among the group of students who toured the site is senior Carolina Osegueda who is studying structural engineering. She said she appreciated learning outside of textbook.

“You get to see everything in action and you begin to build a better understanding and basis to put a real-life picture behind what you learn in class,” said Osegueda. “This was an overall good experience that shows how everything comes together.”