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    Improving Water Quality – What You Can Do

    April 16, 2013 | Posted by WETLAB

    In this blog, we spend much of our time talking about water quality testing news, science and politics that we find interesting; but with this month’s blog, we decided to do something a little different.

    Here at WETLAB we care about maintaining and improving water quality, above and beyond our roll in monitoring it. When we came across some tips for average citizens to help from www.cleanwateraction.org, we thought it was a great fit.

    First is some news that’s been getting quite a bit of attention in the last few years: Don’t flush medicines, pharmaceuticals or personal care products down the toilet or down the drain. That includes anything from over-the-counter drugs to cosmetics and even sun screen or vitamins. They can all impact both the environment and our drinking water down the road.
    Picture 015 300x200 Improving Water Quality   What You Can Do

    Don’t use antibacterial soaps when you don’t need to. These products often contain chemicals that harm aquatic life, and can lead to antibiotic resistant germs.

    Don’t put motor oil, detergents, fertilizers, pesticides or anything but water down storm drains. And speaking of motor oil, fix any drips or leaks on your car or truck so it doesn’t wash into the water supply with the rain.

    Try to use natural gardening products over pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The same goes for inside the home--stay away from toxic household products in cleaning and home care.

    Pick up after your pets! Their waste contains bacteria that can end up in the water supply when it’s washed down the storm drain.

    Pave less of your property. The more water runs across pavement instead of seeping down into the soil, the greater chance it has to pick up pollutants, pick up speed and cause flooding or erosion.

    These are just a few tips we thought were worth sharing. Please add your ideas by commenting on this post or on our Facebook page.

     Improving Water Quality   What You Can Do

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    Sierra Snowpack Water Storage looking low

    March 20, 2013 | Posted by WETLAB

    4309795400 d78dac33ac z Sierra Snowpack Water Storage looking low

    Earlier this winter, we took a look at a promising beginning to the winter’s snowpack and corresponding water storage after big December storms.

    Our January WETLAB blog reported end-of-December totals of 112 percent water content in the Sierra Snowpack that feeds the Truckee River and the Reno-Northern Nevada area downstream. At the time, that put us at 53 percent of the year’s total.

    Fast forward to the end of February, and the picture is a little different - because the water is about the same. Yes, the months of January and February were the driest ever recorded for the Northern Sierra since modern records were first kept in 1920, according to the San Jose Mercury News, putting us at only 66 percent of normal to date.

    Snowfall, stored in the Sierra to melt throughout the spring and summer as one of the major water sources for both Nevada and California, has been blocked by a ridge of high pressure off the West Coast for the last two months, driving storms up into Canada, and dropping them into the Midwest.

    And accordingly, water officials are tightening their belts. The Walker River Irrigation District said farmers might receive about half of what they received last year, even though last year was also a below average year for water in the Sierra snowpack, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

    That - despite this year’s snowpack holding more water than last year - is due to drawn-down reservoir levels, according to Federal Watermaster Jim Shaw.

    “I hate to bear crappy news, but being an old farmer, it doesn’t look very good,” Shaw said in the RGJ article. “If it’s any consolation, it’s this way clear across the U.S., from the Mississippi River west.”

    While the April 1 deadline for measuring Sierra snowpack and water stored therein is quickly approaching, some local forecasters aren’t quite ready to write this winter off.

    Snow Forecaster Bryan Allegretto of opensnow.com writes that, depending on which forecasting model you look at, there’s still a chance at feet of snow before the month of March is up.

    The bottom line - if you’re an optimist, it’s not over until its over, but if you’re not, we’re unlikely to make up for the ground lost in January and February.

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    Cloud Seeding – Milking More Moisture out of Clouds for Northern Nevada

    November 21, 2012 | Posted by WETLAB
    3873088584 eca90d7ba2 m Cloud Seeding – Milking More Moisture out of Clouds for Northern Nevada

    Sunrise over a smoky Northern Nevada (Photo credit: lacomj)

    Cloud Seeding – Milking More Moisture out of Clouds for Northern Nevada

    It sounds like science fiction to those who are unfamiliar, but it’s a practice that’s been in place in Northern Nevada and the California mountains to the west for more than 25 years.

    Cloud Seeding – a practice in which mountaintop generators spray particles of silver iodide into storm clouds to boot ice particle formation and snowfall – has been said to increase the snowpack that feeds the Truckee River (Reno/Sparks major water supply) by an average of about 18,000 acre-feet per year, according to an article in the Reno Gazette Journal.

    According to the Desert Research Institute, over the last 15 years cloud seeding has created enough snow water to supply 140,000 households annually over the last 15 years.

    Last year, a particularly dry year for the Sierra and Northern Nevada, along with much of the west, DRI estimated an increase of 21,600 acre-feet of water, according to the RGJ article.

    For reference, an acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons – enough to supply two average homes for more than a year.

    Funding was cut to the Desert Research Institute by the state legislature in 2009, but regional government entities, including the Truckee Meadows Water Authority and Western Water Commission are poised to pay for the process again this year.

    “We feel it’s money well spent,” said Mark Foree, general manager of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority. “Certainly anything that can help our snowpack is something we are interested in.”

    In considering the water quality impacts on spraying silver iodide into clouds to create snow and rain, the Weather Modification Association says “There is no evidence that suggests cloud seeding creates any significant negative environmental impacts on the environment. Assessments of soil, vegetation and surface runoff haven’t shown levels of silver iodine above natural background levels.

    Desert Research Institute’s cloud seeding is expanding, starting with a 3-year program in southern Nevada to boost the snowpack in the Walker River watershed.

    What do you think of cloud seeding? Let us know by commenting on this post on our Facebook page.

    300px Cloud Seeding.svg Cloud Seeding – Milking More Moisture out of Clouds for Northern Nevada

    English: Cloud seeding. Deutsch: "Impfung" von Wolken um künstlich Regen zu erzeugen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     Cloud Seeding – Milking More Moisture out of Clouds for Northern Nevada

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    Testing Tahoe

    December 9, 2010 | Posted by WETLAB

    LT Testing Tahoe

    One of the national epicenters of water quality monitoring, just minutes away from the WETLAB offices in Sparks, Nev., is gearing up for even more analysis. Lake Tahoe is known around the world as one of the world’s clearest large alpine lakes — and federal, state and local efforts are all concentrated on restoring and preserving the lake’s astounding clarity intact.

    In late November, the regional water board that governs the Tahoe Basin approved an aggressive plan to reduce the amount of fine sediment, phosphorous and nitrogen entering the lake, which are some of the main culprits behind the lake’s steady clarity decline. Over the next 15 years, up to $1.5 billion could be spent to increase the lake’s clarity from last year’s 68-foot depth, to 80 feet, according to news reports.

    For agencies and restoration groups around the lake, the new water quality targets mean more water quality analysis to determine which restoration projects are working and how much sediment, phosphorous and nitrogen is entering the lake. That analysis and lab work is WETLAB’s specialty. Given the increase in water quality monitoring occurring in Tahoe, WETLAB is reminding agencies and non-profits around Lake Tahoe of WETLAB’s convenient regular sample pick-up and material drop-off service to Lake Tahoe.

    A WETLAB employee regularly travels to Lake Tahoe to collect water samples and bring them back to WETLAB’s state-of-the-art Sparks, Nev. laboratory for careful testing and analysis.

    A WETLAB representative travels to South Lake Tahoe every Tuesday, and to North Lake Tahoe every Thursday for sample collection and instrument drop-off. WETLAB is also willing to work out other collection days for new and existing clients if possible.

    WETLAB is proud to be part of the restoration of one of the nation’s natural wonders.

    Andy Testing Tahoe

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    A Uniquely Client Oriented Laboratory Environment

    April 9, 2009 | Posted by WETLAB

    “Getting high quality data can be easy, and working with the right lab can make it a pleasure.”

    WETLAB has always prided itself on being a uniquely client-oriented laboratory that offers superior customer service in addition to provide high quality, legally defensible data in a timely manner. One of the challenges that we have faced over the years, as we've been growing, is providing the same type of customer service that we could as a small lab. We've adapted (are adapting...) by creating internal systems to keep track of our customer's needs, as well as actively pursuing and developing analytical testing to meet the needs of our clients, even it may be outside the realm of our normal testing methods.

    Now I want to ask for a little help from our readers.

    If you are a current client, what are some things that we have done great and made your life easier? What are some things that we could do better at? What there one thing that happen, in particular, that you really noticed as being above and beyond what you would normally expect from a laboratory?

    If you're not a client of ours but you've had experience with analytical laboratories, is there anything that those other labs have done that you feel is above and beyond the normal things you would expect from a lab? Is there something those other labs have done that you feel was unforgivable or unprofessional?

    For everyone, even those who may never use an analytical laboratory, has there ever been a customer service experience that really impressed you? What did that company do and why did it make such a big impression on you? On the other hand, is there a customer service experience (or lack of...) that really left you with a nasty taste in your mouth about that company?

    And finally, for any of you out there that may be in the customer service fields, what are some of the creative solutions you have come up with to provide excellent, creative and unforgettable customer service to your clients?

    Let us know what you think, we'd love to hear from you! Contact us at (775) 355-0202.

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    Join us in Denver at SME, booth 1248

    February 23, 2009 | Posted by WETLAB

    The Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME) is an international society of professionals in the mining and minerals industry. Currently, the membership of SME is more than 12,000 strong, with members in nearly 100 countries.

    On February 22-25, 2009, mining professionals are joining together in Denver, CO for the annual SME show. This is an opportunity to learn more about the mining and minerals industry and gain valuable knowledge and meet new people.

    Come by and visit with Business Development Manager Ginger Peppard and Project Manager Tracy Zoulek at booth 1248.

    For more information about SME, visit their website at www.smenet.org.

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    Method Detection Limits (MDL’s)

    February 17, 2009 | Posted by WETLAB

    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!

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