ACTION ALERT – ACT NOW!
Encourage Los Alamos National Laboratory to incorporate more green solutions into their proposal to cleanup stormwater runoff at two polluted areas that flow into the lush Sandia wetlands and on to the Rio Grande.
Deadline for comments is tomorrow, Friday June 14th!
Background: CCNS has been working as a part of the collaborative group “Communities for Clean Water” to advocate for effective cleanup of stormwater discharges from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). In collaboration with our CCW partners (Amigos Bravos, Honor Our Pueblo Existence and the New Mexico Acequia Association and other non-governmental organizations) we sued the Department of Energy for violations of the Clean Water Act at LANL. In 2011 we settled that lawsuit and received funding for experts and together set up a process to monitor cleanup of the water that runs off of LANL property. We also participated in the negotiations of the federal stormwater permit that outlines requirements to clean up this runoff. As part of this process we have been advocating for the use of Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development approaches to stopping pollution from running off the lab during rain storms.
LANL is proposing “alternative compliance” measures at two areas in Sandia Canyon covered under their permit. The permit requires LANL to offer a 45-day public comment period on their proposal and to formally respond to all comments submitted by Friday, June 14th.
The letter to cut and paste:
Los Alamos National Laboratory
P.O. Box 1663, MS M996
Los Alamos, NM 87545
Re: Alternative Compliance Request for S-SMA-2 and S-SMA-.25
Dear Ms. Jones,
As a citizen who cares about the health of Rio Grande Watershed, I submit the following comments on the Alternative Compliance Request for S-SMA-2 and S-SMA-.25 in Sandia Canyon.
While I am encouraged by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) willingness to incorporate some Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development concepts into the alternative compliance proposal for S-SMA-.25 the two proposals do not adequately protect water quality in Sandia Canyon and the Rio Grande.
A more holistic approach to addressing runoff must be adopted to decrease levels of contaminants flowing through Sandia Canyon and into the Rio Grande. To meet Target Action Levels (TALs) for pollutants in the stormwater more must be done at each SMA. Specifically, control measures such as cisterns to capture roof runoff and bioretention gardens placed strategically around each SMA would drastically reduce PCBs and heavy metals found in the stormwater runoff In addition, regular monitoring and maintenance must be done after installation of these control measures to evaluate their effectiveness.
Cisterns, contrary to statements made in the S-SMA-.25 proposal, do not require an unreasonable amount of maintenance and should be incorporated, not only into these alternative compliance proposals, but broadly across LANL property. In general, a much more proactive approach to retrofitting existing buildings as well as incorporating green stormwater practices into new buildings should be a priority at LANL.
Los Alamos National Laboratory has a unique opportunity to be a scientific and technical leader in the arid southwest in developing effective green measures to control stormwater and protect the Rio Grande. I request that LANL steps up to the challenge and uses this opportunity to protect the Sandia Canyon wetlands and the Rio Grande.