For the past five years, El Paso Community College’s Mission del Paso campus has been experiencing problems with erosion coming from the arroyo behind the Law Enforcement Academy building.
An arroyo is a nearly vertical-walled, flat floored dry stream channel that forms in cohesive and eroded material and tends to fill with water during rainy seasons.
Arroyos, mostly common in the southwest region, are prone to flash flooding and erosion. Climate change that produces heavy rainfall is one of the main factors that create arroyos.
Courtesy EPCC Physical Plan
2013 photo of the arroyo near the Mission del Paso campus
“That erosion is caused by runoff, mainly by the housing developments up across the other side of the freeway,” Rick Lobato, director of the physical plant, said.
Loato said EPCC took steps to try to prevent the erosion from causing further damage before his start at the campus in 2007. Two concrete walls were put in the arroyo to keep water from eroding the edges.
Instead of preventing the erosion from getting worse, the barriers became eroded themselves, causing the attempt to ultimately fail.
The erosion was beginning to pose a threat to the Mission Del Paso campus parking lot, which was inching
closer to the arroyo little by little.
Courtesy EPCC Physical Plant
Since 2007, El Paso Community College has been making efforts to reverse erosion at the Mission del Paso campus.
This 2015 photo depicts construction debris dumped into the arroyo to combat the erosion.
In an effort to combat the problem, construction debris, made up of 90 percent concrete and 10 percent earth, was dumped into the arroyo to help rebuild the area that was pushed back.
“What we have essentially done by doing that [dumping debris] is we’ve shifted the erosion from our side of the campus to the opposite side of the arroyo,” Lobato said.
Though the problem seems to be contained, Lobato said EPCC is looking for another option that will serve as a better solution.
“There’s really not a lot we can do,” he said. “The runoff is caused by all the development upstream. Until the core of engineers step in and they have looked at the arroyo to setup possible containment dams that will slow down the erosion, we have to wait.”
To help aid the process, EPCC has traded some of their land to the county. By doing this, the county engineer will be able to use the traded land to make the containment dams.
“The problem is 100 times better now than it was five years ago,” Lobato said. “For now we have it contained, it’s not a big concern of mine. All it really means is it renders any property we have on the other side of the arroyo unusable, but we don’t have much now that we traded most to the core of engineers.”