By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 9/22/19
Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) and Doña Ana County invite the public to the 7-year Anniversary of the Griggs-Walnut Groundwater Plume Remediation Project (163 N. Cottonwood) on Thursday, September 26th, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“The purpose of this open house is to allow the public to tour the facility and obtain an update of the remediation efforts by the Joint Superfund Project,” explains Jorge A. Garcia, PhD, P.E., Utilities director. “The public has a chance to see the operations of the facility and chat with some of our staff who work with the project and have for years.”
The water treatment facility at the Griggs-Walnut Superfund Site 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 and was first detected in Las Cruces groundwater in 1993. The affected water wells were immediately taken off-line. The facility processes more than 350,000 gallons of water per day, clearing the PCE and making the water suitable for drinking.
The contaminated groundwater is pumped from two off-line municipal wells — No. 18 and No. 27 — and passes through air strippers that expose the impacted water to oxygen, which dissipates the PCE, removing it from the water. Chlorine is then added to the treated water before it is transferred to the Griggs Reservoir, off Triviz Drive, and distributed for consumption.
In June 2011, both the Las Cruces City Council and the Doña Ana Board of County Commissioners approved the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Modified Administrative Order and provided an intent to comply to EPA. The action allowed for the construction of a water treatment facility.
The plume, known as the Griggs-Walnut Groundwater Plume Superfund Site, stretches from west of Solano Drive to east of Interstate 25, generally between East Griggs Avenue and East Hadley Avenue. The polluted water ranges from about 190 feet to 650 feet below ground level.
Guests attending the anniversary event can access the facility from Walnut Street, just south of the skate park. People needing special accommodations should contact the City 48 hours in advance at (575)528-3511 or (575)528-3690/TTY.
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: Utilities Director, Jorge A. Garcia, PhD, P.E., greets residents at the 2018 Griggs Avenue and Walnut Street Groundwater Plume Superfund Site, during last year’s Open House.