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

Surface Water Quality Bureau
Monitoring & Assessment Section
Pajarito Plateau Assessment
for the FINAL 2014-2016 Integrated List

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Single-stage samplers deployed in DP Canyon...  Click to enlarge.

Lynette Guevara
Assessment Coordinator
(505) 827-2904

Jeff Scarano
MAS Program Manager
(505) 827-2814

Assessment Notes Download the 61 kb PDF file today...
Impairments List Download the 95 kb PDF file today...
Assessment Data:
  Metals Download the 938 kb Excel spreadsheet file today...
  PCB Dataset Download the 40 kb Excel spreadsheet file today...
  RADs w/ GA Adjust. Download the 86 kb Excel spreadsheet file today...
Sampling Station Map (from 2010 list) Download the 3 MB PDF file today...

As part of the 2014-2016 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.  SWQB conducted a special study of the Pajarito Plateau in 2006 and 2007.  This was primarily a storm water study performed with assistance and cooperation from the NMED Department of Energy Oversight Bureau (DOE OB) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  These data, along with available LANL data, were assessed during the 2010 assessment cycle.

For the 2014 cycle, SWQB combined these data with more recent LANL and NM DOE OB data downloaded from Intellus New Mexico.   The focus of this data compilation and assessment effort was  metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and radionuclides.  SWQB developed this web page to provide further information to the public regarding these water quality assessments.  Available downloads above include Pajarito Assessment Notes (contains additional information on how the final assessment datasets were prepared), a spreadsheet of Pajarito Plateau impairments, a map of water quality station locations, and data files containing all water quality data used for assessment.

Primary findings of this assessment are as follows:

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PCBs – Twenty-five assessment units remain listed for exceedences of the human health criterion (0.00064 μg/L); nineteen remain listed for wildlife habitat (0.014 μg/L criterion); and two assessment units, namely Los Alamos Canyon above DP Canyon and Sandia Canyon between Sigma and NPDES outfall 001,  had documented exceedences of the acute aquatic life use criterion (2 μg/L).

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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. Gross alpha data were adjusted where QA/QC-verified data were available to make the adjustment.  Twenty-five assessment units remain listed for adjusted gross alpha.

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Dissolved copper – New Mexico has hardness-dependent criteria for dissolved copper.  Six assessment units remain listed for dissolved copper.  LANL prepared and proposed a IR Category 4b Demonstration for dissolved copper in “Sandia Canyon (Sigma Canyon to NPDES outfall 001)” following guidance in SWQB’s Assessment Protocols to demonstrate that a TMDL is not necessary for this parameter because other pollution control requirements are reasonably expected to result in attainment of the water quality standard in the near future.  The draft IR Category 4b demonstration is available at:

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Other metals – One assessment unit is listed for each of the following:  dissolved zinc, dissolved thallium, dissolved arsenic, and total recoverable selenium, and total mercury.

In addition, thirty assessment units remain listed for dissolved aluminum.  Dissolved aluminum criteria no longer apply to these waters; they were replaced with hardness-dependent total recoverable aluminum criteria.  These listings will remain as placeholders until sufficient data exist to assess these waters for total recoverable aluminum, tentatively scheduled for the draft 2016 Integrated List.

The entire 2014-2016 Integrated List, including the Pajarito Plateau Assessment, was opened for a 45-day public comment period which initially closed on July 14, 2014.  In response to requests for an extention, an additional 15 days were added to the response time.  The final public comment period closed on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.  The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission gave their Order of Approval on September 9, 2014, and the US EPA approved the State's List of Impaired Waters on November 18, 2014.

For more information, please contact Lynette Guevara or Jeff Scarano at the links provided above.


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