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Mini Dozer saves money, manpower for Stormwater

The newest addition to El Paso Water’s Stormwater operations is earning rave reviews from staff members. The Mini Dozer, which cost about $130,000, can carry about a half-ton of debris and operate on an eight-hour battery charge. It also saves time, money and manpower, aside from making it safer for Stormwater employees who work to keep systems free of debris.

“It’s important that we continue to find innovative ways to work on our stormwater systems, and this is one example of that,” said Alan Shubert, Vice President of Operations and Technical Services. “We are looking for other things that can maximize our safety and productivity.”

Previously, clearing El Paso’s miles of waterways to prevent flooding meant sending in a crew of about six workers with wheelbarrows and shovels to tackle the tons of debris – such as mattresses, tires and sediment from Castner Range. All it takes now is a crew of about three workers, with one operating the Mini Dozer via a remote control that resembles a video game control with joysticks.

Horacio Martinez, General Services Lead Worker, is the sole operator of the Mini Dozer and is responsible for the machine and its maintenance.

“In the beginning, it was hard to operate, but I got used to it,” Martinez said. He praised the efficiency of the Mini Dozer and said he greatly appreciates the opportunity afforded to him.

“It takes less than 10 minutes to set it up,” he said. “Previously we did this work by hand. The Mini Dozer eliminates the need to go into the confined spaces of the conduit. You have the cameras to rely on so you can see what’s inside the conduit.”

EPWater recognizes the safety benefits and value of the Mini Dozer in clearing El Paso’s debris-choked waterways, considering how much dirt it moves with one person holding a remote control, Shubert said.

“It’s an example of where customers’ stormwater fees go,” Shubert said. “Every year we get a little bit better, and every year we are closing in on flooding problems.”