State of New Mexico > Environment Department > Surface Water Quality Bureau

Surface Water Quality Bureau
Monitoring & Assessment Section
Pajarito Plateau Assessment
for the 2010-2012 Integrated List

A typical guage station on the Pajarito Plateau...

Lynette Guevara
Assessment Coordinator
(505) 827-2904

Jeff Scarano
MAS Program Manager
(505) 827-2814

Summary Conclusions 71 kb Download the 71 kb Excel spreadsheet file today...
DATASET w/o PCBs 9.6 MB Download the 9.6 MB Excel spreadsheet file today...
DATASET PCBs ONLY 108 kb Download the 108 kb Excel spreadsheet file today...
Sampling Station Map 3.0 MB Download the 3 MB PDF file today...
Additional Information 25 kb Download the 25 kb PDF file today...

As part of the DRAFT 2010-2012 Integrated List, The New Mexico Environment Department's (NMED) Surface Water Quality Bureau (SWQB) has performed a comprehensive assessment of surface water quality of the Pajarito Plateau.  All readily available surface water quality data collected during 2004-2008 from watershed stations were used for assessment. This assessment of surface water quality, which included over 29,000 data values from 78 stations, represents the largest single surface water quality assessment conducted by NMED and could not have been completed without the data collection and compilation support of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and NMED Department of Energy Oversight Bureau (DOE-OB).

The water quality assessment included data collected by SWQB, DOE-OB, and LANL.  The SWQB dataset was collected as part of a special study of the Pajarito Plateau in 2006 and 2007 funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).  This was primarily a stormwater study performed with assistance and cooperation from DOE-OB and LANL. 

The results of the surface water quality assessment have largely confirmed, albeit with much greater detail, the water quality impairments identified by NMED during the last Pajarito Plateau assessment in 2006.  Primary findings of this assessment are as follows:

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PCBs – Available data exceed the human health criterion of 0.00064 μg/L in storm water throughout most of the study area where sufficient data were available, and exceed the Wildlife Habitat criterion of 0.014 μg/L primarily in Pajarito, Los Alamos, Pueblo, Sandia and their associated side canyons.

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Adjusted Gross Alpha – New Mexico has a 15 pCi/L livestock watering criterion for “adjusted gross alpha” which means the total radioactivity due to alpha particle emission excluding radon-222, uranium and source, special nuclear and by-product material as defined by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Even after adjusting for special nuclear materials and other excluded nuclides when possible, exceed the 15 pCi/L criterion was exceeded nearly everywhere sufficient data were available within the study area.

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Selenium – Assessment of available data resulted in delisting all of the AUs previously listed for selenium, presumably because the previous listing were based on elevated concentrations of selenium following the 2000 Cerro Grande fire.

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Aluminum – By far, the largest metal impairment identified was exceedences of the acute aluminum standard of 750 μg/L. The large number of exceedences may reflect natural sources associated with the geology of the region; for example, there are also many aluminum listing in other areas of the Jemez mountains.

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Other metals – There were 14 stream reaches (assessment units) listed for exceedences of the acute copper criteria, 6 for mercury, and 4 for acute zinc. These are primarily located in Pajarito, Los Alamos, Pueblo, Sandia and their associated side canyons.

SWQB developed this web page to provide further information to the public regarding these water quality assessments.  Links here include summary tables of all assessment conclusions, a map of water quality station locations, a summary of assessment conclusions for selected parameters of concern, data files containing all water quality data used for assessment, and additional information about assessment procedures including selection of sites suitable for water quality assessments on the Pajarito Plateau is provided in the Preface to both the Integrated List and its Record of Decision.

The entire DRAFT 2010-2012 Integrated List, including the Pajarito Plateau Assessment was open for a 60-day public comment period which closed on February 16, 2010.  The public was invited to review the data and assessment conclusions and provide comment.  Responses to public comments received resulted in minor changes to the Pajarito Plateau listings as noted in the Summary Conclusions file.  The Final DRAFT Integrated List was presented before the Water Quality Control Commission at their regular public meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2010.  The WQCC-Approved version was approved by the US EPA on July 29, 2010.   For more information, contact Lynette Guevara or Jeff Scarano at the links provided above.


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