News Releases

El Paso Water Chief Operations Officer will be named Engineer of the Year
Texas Society of Professional Engineers – El Paso Chapter will honor Fernie Rico

News Release
Contact: Josh Moniz
915-594-5510 (office), 915-319-3284 (cell) e-mail:

Date: February 19, 2018

EL PASO – The Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) will name El Paso Water’s Chief Operations Officer Fernie Rico as the 2018 Engineer of the Year tonight at the TSPE Banquet, held at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel.

“El Paso Water and the entire El Paso community is lucky to have Fernie working for us,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew and TSPE’s 2012 Engineer of the Year. “He is truly passionate about water quality, and his years of dedication, problem solving and innovation have helped keep the bar very high for safe, high quality drinking water here in El Paso.”

Rico is also recognized for his desire to collaborate and innovate on water research projects. He leads El Paso Water’s collaborations with a number of universities. He credits his career success to his willingness to collaborate with others – not just externally but internally too. Through the years, he said he has benefitted from mentors’ and colleagues’ vast amount of experience and knowledge.

“What I really like at El Paso Water is working together with the different sections and learning from everybody - being able to share my knowledge and making this utility a better place for the citizens of El Paso,” Rico said.

Rico joined EPWater almost 30 years ago after serving first as a regulator at the Texas Department of Health. At El Paso Water, he worked his way up through the organization with ever-increasing levels of responsibility. As Chief Operations Officer, he manages the Utility’s day-to-day field operations, including water and wastewater treatment plants, water and wastewater distribution and collection systems, reclaimed water, stormwater operations. He also oversees El Paso Water’s laboratory, environmental compliance, emergency response and security services.

He is the former president of the Texas Water Utilities Association and has served on a number of boards, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Certification Board.

A native El Pasoan who attended Austin High School, Rico holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso.

With oversight by the Public Service Board, El Paso Water provides water, wastewater and stormwater management services to the City of El Paso.