WETLAB Western Environmenal Testing Laboratory
Serving Nevada, California, Idaho and Wyoming
Sparks (775) 355-0202
Elko (775) 340-3173
Las Vegas (702) 475-8899

Impacts of Stormwater Discharge on Water Bodies

Posted by Ginger Peppard, Business Development Manager

I recently attended a great workshop hosted by Placer County and the Town of Truckee entitled “Stormwater Quality Workshop for the Truckee Area Emphasizing Regulations, BMP’s and Low Impact Development.” The workshop was designed to provide contractors, developers, planners, engineers and inspectors with information needed in order to be in compliance with current storm water and non-storm water discharge requirements. It also addressed current regulations, Best Management Practices (BMPs) for construction sites and an overview of Low Impact Development (LID). For more information about the workshop (or to see when they are going to schedule it again!) or about Placer County’s Stormwater Quality Program, email: stormwater@placer.ca.gov.

Why is stormwater monitoring and quality important?

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snowmelt flows over impervious surfaces (such as roads, driveways, buildings, sidewalks and parking lots). These impervious surfaces prevent the water from soaking directly into the ground. Stormwater runoff is a problem because, while the water is traveling over these impervious surfaces, searching for an area to infiltrate, it picks up speed, as well as debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants. Because stormwater is not treated (or minimally treated in some areas), those large concentrations of pollutants are then deposited directly into the storm drains, or in many cases, directly into streams, rivers, lakes or wetlands.

These harmful contaminants then come in direct contact with fish and wildlife and pollute the water that many of us depend on for recreation activities and for drinking water. Some of the common pollutants found in stormwater are: motor oil, grease, automotive fluids, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, paint, solvents, insecticides and sediment and other large debris such as plastic bags, cigarette butts and bottles and cans. Bacteria and other pathogens are also common contaminants and can create serious health hazards. All of these pollutants have serious hazards, either to humans or to the fish and wildlife that inhabit our local streams, lakes and wetlands.

Here are some things you can do to help prevent stormwater runoff pollution:

  • Prevent soil erosion by vegetating bare spots in and around your property. If you have livestock, take all possible steps to prevent overgrazing.
  • Pick up after your pet and dispose of waste in a proper waste receptacle.
  • Cover piles of Pick up after your pet and dispose of waste in a proper waste receptacle.
    loose landscaping materials.
  • Do not disturb vegetation or soil around natural waterways. Stick to defined trails while enjoying the outdoors.
  • Never dump anything down the storm drains or directly into waterways.
  • Dispose of used auto fluids, batteries, solvents, paints and prescription drugs using proper disposal methods. Many of these items have designated drop off or recycling locations.
  • Take your car to the car wash instead of washing it in your driveway.
  • Use fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides sparingly.
  • Don’t over water your lawn.
  • If you have a septic tank, have it professionally inspected every 3 years and pumped regularly.
  • During construction activities, minimize disturbed areas, stabilize slopes and avoid disturbing natural channels. Also minimize the amount of dirt tracked out of the project site.

For more information from Placer County, or additional information brochures for homeowners, construction, Post-Construction and Business/Industrial, visit Placer County’s website at http://www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/Works/StrmWtr.aspx.


Snapshot Day 2009 – May 16, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Snapshot Day 2009 – May 16, 2009

For those of you are aren’t familiar with Snapshot Day, it is a citizen-based water quality monitoring event of the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River Watersheds. Citizen monitoring teams, led by water resource professionals, and composed of community volunteers and students, field-test streams throughout the watershed for dissolved oxygen (DO), conductivity (EC), pH, and temperature. The also collect discrete water samples that are then taken to a laboratory for the analysis of nutrients, sediments and bacteria. Teams will also conduct visual habitat assessments of the sites. Team leaders will help educate the volunteers and students by sharing interesting watershed facts and provide information about how you can improve and protect your watershed.

This is a great opportunity to learn about your local watershed and get more involved in a great locally driven environmental event. Also, the data collected on this day helps provide a “snapshot” of water quality and stream conditions all throughout the watershed.

For more information about Snapshot day, or if you would like to participate next year (either as a team leader or a volunteer), email Mary Kay Reidl at mriedl@ndep.nv.gov.

This year, our Client Services Representative, Brian Wadsworth, participated in Snapshot day!

You can also contact Brian at brianw@wetlaboratory.com for more information!


Oil and Grease

Oil & Grease

Method: EPA 1664
Volume: 1L for RL = 1.5mg/l, 2L for RL = 1.0mg/l
Preservation: HCl, 2-6 degrees C, Amber glass bottle
Special Requirements: for every set of samples submitted (1 to 20 samples) a duplicate sample must be submitted for internal laboratory QA/QC requirements. The client is not charged for this duplicate sample.

Western Environmental Testing Lab carries certification in NV and CA for the analysis of water samples for oil and grease by method EPA1664. WETLAB utilizes the “Solid Phase Extraction” or SPE technique. This method is used for determining n-hexane extractable material (HEM) which includes some non-volatile hydrocarbons, vegetable oils, animal fats, waxes, soaps, greases, and related materials.

In order to perform the oil and grease analysis we filter the client sample through a specially prepared filter that has the ability to hold onto oils and greases. Once the sample has been filtered through, we extract from the filter all the oil and grease using three portions on n-hexane. The n-hexane extracts are combined in a pre-weighed tin and evaporated. Once all the n-hexane is evaporated what is left is any oil and grease from the original sample. We determine the amount of oil and grease by comparing the final weight of the tin to the original weight. This is known as a gravimetric determination.

There are two very important requirements of the method that the client needs to be aware of concerning Oil & Grease. The first is that the client must collect the sample in a 1-liter glass container. Plastic does not work since it is more susceptible to oils and greases sticking to the inside of the container. The second requirement is that the lab must analyze a second 1-liter sample (one for every 20 samples analyzed) as part of the QA/QC requirements of the method. This is an issue since we usually only receive one sample per site from the client. We generally send out an extra 1-liter sample container per bottle kit to the clients that is labeled as a QA/QC sample (or “Duplicate”). This sample is not actually used as a laboratory duplicate and should not replace any field duplicates required by your sampling protocols, it is simply used to provide additional sample volume to run the method required QA/QC. Please remember we do not charge the client for this extra sample, it is simply a sample that we need to satisfy all method requirements.


Staff Profile: Andy Smith

One of the qualities we pride ourselves on here at WETLAB are the relationships that we’ve built with our clients over the years and, at least in our opinion, you can’t build relationships if you don’t know anything about us so we’ve decided to start profiling our staff so our readers can get to know a little more about our past, present and future…

Name: Andy Smith
Position: QA/Technical Director

Andy is originally from Phoenix, AZ. He attended Adams State College in Alamosa, CO where he graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in May 1996. During college he spent time in two different jobs. One was as a lab assistant for organic chemistry and general chemistry labs for about 3 years. The other position, for about a year, was in a BOR lab off-campus as a lab technician and sampler. After graduation, while still in Phoenix, he worked for Rosarita Mexican Foods as a QA technician checking food and can quality for 1 year. Next, he began working for Aqualab (later Acculabs) in the wetchemistry department. He later moved into metals. A few years later, he moved to Reno, NV to work for Acculabs with Michelle Sherven (formerly Kramer).

Since working for WETLAB (formerly Acculabs) he has done pretty much everything. He has been a wetchemistry analyst, a metals analyst, supervisor, laboratory manager, and now QA/Technical director. His training spans everything our lab currently offers, as well as in-depth training by the manufacturers for our IC, ICPMS and Lachet equipment. Also, he had a one day stint as a fish fossil digger in Kemmerer, WY!

Andy fills his time outside work being an avid fan of ice hockey (and even playing some when he gets the chance) and skateboarding. He has also recently started taking boxing classes at TMCC and his favorite author is Michael Crichton.

Feel free to contact Andy at andy@wetlaboratory.com


The Walker River Paiute Tribe – Walker River, Schurz, Nevada

As part of a Comprehensive Water Quality Program, Huffman & Carpenter, Inc. (H&C) developed a surface water quality and groundwater quality development program of sampling for the Walker River Paiute Tribe (Tribe). The Tribe implemented a surface water quality monitoring program in 1997 to determine a baseline water quality for the Walker River as it flows through the Reservation. The Tribe is responsible for 323,406 acres in west central Nevada through which the Walker River flows to its terminus in Walker Lake. The long-term goals for the program are to assess water quality within the river and to establish water quality standards for surface water, groundwater, and other significant water bodies within the Reservation boundaries. The primary monitoring program which is currently being implemented is supported by a 106-Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IX. The ultimate objective of the Tribe is adoption of Tribal Water Quality Standards, establishment of water codes, and overall management of water resources within Walker River Paiute Reservation.

H&C has utilized Western Environmental Testing Laboratory since 2003 on the Walker River Paiute Tribe project. Specifically, WETLAB has provided the Walker River Paiute Tribe with high quality analytical results for surface water, soil and groundwater testing.

Huffman & Carpenter is located in Reno, NV. They are a group of professional wetland scientists, environmental scientists, biologists, engineers and economists that are dedicated to affect, promote and accomplish watershed restoration for human and wildlife habitats. Their services include, but are not limited to: Erosion Control, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans, Water Quality and Water Treatment, GIS and GPS Mapping and Watershed and Hydrologic Modeling. For more information about the Walker River Paiute Tribe project or about Huffman & Carpenter visit their website here.


Method Detection Limits (MDL’s)

The Method Detection Limit (MDL) is defined as “the minimum concentration of a substance that can be measured and reported with a 99% confidence that the analyte concentration is greater than zero” (40CFR sec. 136 Appendix B). The MDL is used for various reasons in an analytical laboratory, with the primary reason being it is used to determine the reporting limits for each analyte that a laboratory analyzes for. Reporting Limits (RL’s) are generally 3-5 times the MDL. On occasion a laboratory can report lower than the calculated MDL, however these results are always flagged as estimates and cannot not always be considered legally defensible data. MDL studies are also required as part of the process of maintaining certifications.

A MDL is initially established when a method is set up, a new piece of equipment is brought online or if there is a significant change in equipment or location (i.e. moving to a new location, significant maintenance or replacement of major parts). MDL’s are confirmed on a regular basis according to method specifications (generally on an annual basis but for some parameters, such as anions, it is done twice a year). MDL studies are performed on a regular basis to assure that there is no loss of sensitivity on the equipment due to wear and tear or the constantly changing environmental conditions.

Do you have more questions about MDL’s or questions about other laboratory terminology? Is there something that always confused you about laboratory services? Leave a comment and let us know what you want to know about!


Services and Qualifications

WETLAB’s objective is always to produce the highest quality data while providing our clients with superior customer service. Our client services staff is renowned for both meeting the testing needs of our clients’ and offering innovative and customized solutions. In response to the needs of many of our regional clients, we have developed niche products and services specific to Northern Nevada and Northern California.

WETLAB routinely provides comprehensive analytical support on a variety of matrices including:

  • Wastewater
  • Surface water
  • Storm water
  • Soil
  • Wastes
  • Rocks
  • Groundwater
  • Drinking water
  • Sludge
  • Filters
  • Monitor wells
  • Speciality Matrices (De-icing products, media, paint chips, etc.)

Compounds for which WETLAB provides services include:

  • Metals
  • Anions
  • Low Level Nutrients
  • MWMP Extractions
  • Microbiology
  • General Chemistry
  • TCLP Compounds
  • Priority Pollutants
  • Mining Chemistry

If you would like a complete listing of parameters that we perform testing on, email us at ginger@wetlaboratory.com.

We perform testing to comply with the following programs in Nevada and California:

  • RCRA
  • SDWA
  • CWA
  • We also appear of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Approved Vendor List

Our quality assurance program ensures that data is produced in an accurate, precise, legally defensible, timely and cost effective manner. Our Quality Assurance Plan provides the structure, policies and responsibility for the execution of quality assurance, quality control and quality assessment programs. We have also developed Standard Operating Procedures for all of the methods and procedures that are performed in our laboratories. If you are interested in receiving a copy of our Statement of Qualifications or Quality Assurance Plan, please email Ginger Peppard at ginger@wetlaboratory.com.

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