Reconstruction of American Canal along Rio Grande in El Paso completed

The Border Wall

Contractors and USIBWC employees inspect the 24-foot-wide by 12-foot-high newly reconstructed portion of the American Canal. The canal, originally completed in 1938, diverts Rio Grande water for irrigation and domestic use for El Paso area farmers and the City of El Paso, and to ensure the equitable division of Rio Grande water with Mexico. Farmers produce crops on more than 56,000 acres in the El Paso Valley with water from the American Canal. (Courtesy USIBWC)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The reconstruction of the American Canal and Dam along the border that separates El Paso and Juarez has been completed, according to the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission.

The American Dam and American Canal is used to divert water from the Rio Grande for irrigation and domestic use, as well as sharing water with Mexico. It was built 80 years ago.

“We at El Paso County Water Improvement District would like to thank the USIBWC and its staff for a job well done in the reconstruction of the very important American Canal,” said Jesus “Chuy” Reyes, general manager of the El Paso County Water Improvement District 1. “Our farmers and the City of El Paso rely on this canal to irrigate 55,000 acres of farmland and deliver water to three El Paso treatment plants that is then used as potable water by El Paso citizens.”

The reconstruction project saw the canal be demolished and then re-lined with concrete. The move increased its capacity by 28% and to allow safety equipment to be installed to help prevent drowning.

The reconstruction started in 2017 at Executive Center Boulevard in West El Paso and goes for 2,269 feet south. The work was done by Meridian Contracting, Inc. through a $21 million contract.

A similar project is planned for parts of the canal near Downtown El Paso.

“In addition to replacing the canal, USIBWC undertook remediation of soils and groundwater contaminated with lead and arsenic from the former ASARCO copper smelter,” a news release read. “To meet EPA standards, USIBWC processed the water from the site through a portable treatment plant then discharged it into the Rio Grande. The environmental remediation costs in the amount of $12 million were covered by ASARCO funds received by USIBWC to settle the agency’s environmental claim against the former smelter.”

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