By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in Las Cruces Bulletin 10/11/19
On Thursday, September 26th, Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) and Doña Ana County invited the public to celebrate the 7th Anniversary of the establishment of the Griggs-Walnut Groundwater Plume Remediation Project at 163 N. Cottonwood. This year, residents were also able to mingle with representatives from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EPA Environmental Engineers, Mark D. Purcell, remedial project manager and geologist of the Superfund Division, and Nelly Smith, came to Las Cruces to present to the public at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library the day before the Anniversary event.
“We had a good turnout, with sharp people who knew what was going on and had good questions for us,” said Purcell.
Both Purcell and Smith sat in during the joint monthly briefing between LCU and the County, scheduled to fall on the anniversary date, while the treatment facility was open to the public for tours.
With the hum of water being cleaned by “air-stripping” technology in the background, LCU Water Deputy Director, Adrienne L. Widmer, P.E., led the briefing – discussing
expenditures and the results of the daily testing. The eleven-minute meeting, short and sweet, brought everyone up to date and participants left knowing the site is operating effectively and as originally envisioned in 2011. At that time, both the Las Cruces City Council and the Doña Ana Board of County Commissioners approved the EPA’s Modified Administrative Order, which allowed for the construction of the water treatment facility.
“We want to thank you all for your hard work and tracking,” said Purcell. “It’s harder to see the daily work you do from [EPA Region 6 Office] in Dallas, but we can really see that it’s being done well here.”
The water treatment facility successfully processes more than 350,000 gallons of water per day. The process clears the groundwater of the chemical perchloroethylene – commonly referred to as PCE – to make the water drinkable. PCE is a man-made chemical used for dry cleaning clothes and degreasing metal. It was first detected in Las Cruces groundwater in 1993 with the polluted water anywhere between 190 feet to 650 feet below ground level, and the two affected water wells were immediately taken off-line. In response to Purcell, Widmer replied, “We really thank our daily staff who monitor these wells continuously, making sure that we can convert the water into safe, usable drinking water.”
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: LCU Board Commissioner, Steven Baumgarn, talks to LCU Regulatory & Environmental Analyst, Joshua Rosenblatt at the 7th Anniversary Griggs-Walnut Groundwater Plume Remediation Project open house.