National Nuclear Security Administration

Sandia’s water quality program earns six gold awards

April 2, 2018

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The Sandia winning team, from left: Ben Martinez, Zach Tenorio, Steve Black, Jared Lujan, Martin Baca, and Andrew Gough. Not pictured: Darrell Fong, Manager, Danielle Michel, and Gilbert Quintana.
The Sandia winning team, from left: Ben Martinez, Zach Tenorio, Steve Black, Jared Lujan, Martin Baca, and Andrew Gough. Not pictured: Darrell Fong, Manager, Danielle Michel, and Gilbert Quintana.

They say that “water is life” in the desert region of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is why the exemplary standards met by Sandia National Laboratories deserve commendation.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority Industrial Pretreatment Program recently presented NNSA and Sandia with “Gold Awards” for all six of its wastewater permits. The awards are given for 100 percent compliance with Wastewater Discharge Permit reporting requirements and zero Notices of Violation during the reporting period.

“The team did an excellent job meeting permit requirements. This achievement reflects well on the Sandia’s commitment, dedication, and professionalism,” said Steve Black, Sandia Field Office Water Quality Program Manager.

Managing wastes before they enter the sewer collection system is a critical element of Sandia's Water Quality program. This practice helps safeguard the treatment process at the local water reclamation plant, which treats approximately 55 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Harmful organisms and other contaminants must be removed before water is discharged to the Rio Grande – a critical habitat for threatened and endangered species and a water resource for surrounding communities.

The six wastewater monitoring stations at Sandia Labs are operated under permits and contain a mixture of sanitary and industrial wastewater. Contaminants can include: sanitary discharges from food service establishments and restrooms as well as industrial discharges produced by laboratory research operations like electroplating, metal finishing, microelectronic development, and photographic processes.

The Industrial Pretreatment Program is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Wastewater is sampled on a regular basis to determine compliance with permit requirements.