Western Environmental
Testing Laboratory
Courier Services at WETLAB

At WETLAB, we try to do everything we can to make things easier for our clients environmental testing needs.  One of the biggest ways we do that is with wide-reaching courier routes that run weekly.  Each of our three offices (Sparks, Elko, and Las Vegas) has their own routes, which makes it easier for clients all over Nevada and parts of California to have their samples analyzed in a timely manner.

For a sample of how far WETLAB travels to better serve you, we’ll take a look at the basic weekly schedule of pick-ups from the Sparks office.

Monday: Herlong, Portola, Grass Valley, North Lake Tahoe

Tuesday: Kirkwood, South Lake Tahoe, East Shore, Yerington

Wednesday: Carson City, Bridgeport, Topaz Lake

Thursday: South Shore, Mt. Rose, North Shore, Winnemucca, Round Mountain, Austin

Friday: Winnemucca upon request

If scheduled ahead of time, WETLAB can also provide basic sampling and off-route pick-up!  And when a storm comes, we make a special storm water route available.

 

Call us today at (775) 355-0202 to see how WETLAB can make your sample pick-up and delivery easier.

According the Reno Gazette-Journal, the recent rains experienced by northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe will ultimately have little impact on lake water levels.  The recent precipitation has pushed Lake Tahoe up to its natural rim, but will drop as the weather continues to warm.

There has been a reported 1.42 inches of rainfall in South Lake Tahoe between May 14 and 25, and just about one inch in Reno-Sparks.

While any rain is good for our local water table, the amount we received in May is simply not enough to make a large difference for the rest of the summer. By the end of the summer, Lake Tahoe is expected to be several feet below its rim.

The long standing drought in California and Nevada shows few signs of stopping anytime soon.

More about this story can be found here.

2015 Seasonal Drought Outlook, Courtesy of the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center

The Sierra’s first snow survey, conducted early this month, indicated what we already knew – it’s the beginning of another dry year.

 According to a recently published article in the Sacramento Bee, California experienced one of the driest starts to winter ever recorded. In fact, in its first snow survey, the California Department of Water Resources found the snowpack at only 20 percent of average – a water supply crucial to both California and Nevada.

In the northern Sierra, according to the Bee, which supplies much of the Reno-Sparks’ area water via the Truckee River, the snowpack is just 10 percent of average.

That stacks up to 9.3 inches of snow depth – 2.3 inches of water content – at Echo Summit near South Lake Tahoe, according to an article in the Sierra Sun.

The results weren’t surprising after 2013’s record-setting drought, the driest in California’s 119 years of data, according to the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno.

“The water situation is bad; we’re kind of in unprecedented conditions. We’re looking at a year that’s potentially going to be worse than the 1976-77 drought,” John Woodling, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Water Authority, noted in the Sacramento Bee article.

Reports by the Reno Gazette-Journal indicate that if the weather keeps up, California will only be able to deliver 5 percent of the water requested by 29 public agencies this year.

“While we hope conditions improve, we are fully mobilized to streamline water transfers and take every action possible to ease the effects of dry weather on farms, homes and businesses as we face a possible third consecutive dry year,” said Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources in an issued statement.

At Lake Tahoe, officials are already urging conservation, according to the Sierra Sun.

“Every gallon a customer conserves will help preserve the necessary water resources available during a drought situation,” Tony Laliotis, director of utilities for the Tahoe City Public Utility District told the Sun. “Conserving water in the winter is just as important as conserving in the summer.”

The season isn’t over yet though, as some officials have pointed out.

“One giant storm can turn it around,” said Steven Poncelet of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District in the Sierra Sun article.

Sierra Snowpack water content off to a strong start!

Measuring snow depth with GPS

Measuring snow depth with GPS (Photo credit: WSDOT)

It’s that time of year again – the time when intrepid snow surveyors head out into the Sierra Nevada Mountains to assess how much water is stored in the winter’s snowpack.

California Department of Water Resources surveyors went out for the first look at the end of December and confirmed what we all expected – there’s a lot of water already stored in the snow, ready to flow downstream to Nevada and California in the spring.

The Central Sierra region, which includes the Truckee River – the primary water source for the Reno-Sparks region, holds 112 percent of normal water content for this date, and 53 percent of the yearly total measured April 1st each year.

The Northern Sierra reports 117 percent and 56 percent for those two stats, and the Southern Sierra shows 109 percent and 47 percent, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

After last winter’s dry spell, some in Nevada are still cautious, however.

According to a Reno Gazette Journal article, Federal Watermaster Jim Shaw told the Walker River Irrigation District Board to be cautious, with some long term forecasts showing below normal precipitation for January through March.

Frank Gehrke, chief snow surveyor for the California Department of Water Resources, shared the same caution in a San Francisco Chronicle article.

“We’ve got a real good start to the year, but still three months to go where we need to have more snow,” he said in the article. “From a skier’s standpoint, it’s gorgeous. You can’t get much better in California than we’ve got now. The thing that is always on our minds, though, is whether this sunny weather will keep up for long.”

Still, things look a lot better than last year, according to the article, with 4 feet of snow measured by Gehrke (1 foot of water content) this year, compared to 4 inches of snow – 0.14 inches of water – for the same time last year.

So the bottom line is this – we’re off to a good start, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for more snow to come!

Measuring snow depth with style

Measuring snow depth with style (Photo credit: WSDOT)

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Tahoe Governing Body Passes Water Quality Plan

Here at WETLAB,  Western Environmental Testing Laboratory, we keep an eye on water quality issues throughout Northern Nevada and the surrounding region, and perhaps no other place within the region gets more attention than Lake Tahoe.

Recently, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a bi-state agency that governs Lake Tahoe, passed an update to it’s 1987 regional plan in a 12-1 vote – an update that took the better part of a decade, according to an article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

The overarching goal of the plan is to reduce polluting runoff into the lake that reduces clarity – specifically targeting fine sediments that stay suspended in the water and nutrients that aid in growth, according to the article.

The updates specifically will allow investment in old, outdated properties that are known sources of runoff into Lake Tahoe.

But the TRPA has drawn criticism from both developers and from environmentalists, and it’s contentiousness has drawn the discussion out over many years.

Developers believe the Regional Plan to be to restrictive of construction and development so far as to hamper economic growth, while environmental groups contend the plan does not do enough to address the TRPA’s environmental goals.

The update allows increased building height, building density and developed coverage around the lake, according to critics, the article states.

“Earthjustice has represented local interests and conservation groups in the past to protect the lake and regions around its shoreline from unbridled construction and development,” said Earthjustice Attorney Wendy Park on the issue. “The population of California is growing rapidly and Lake Tahoe needs stronger, not weaker, protections to stay the very special mountain lake everyone cherishes.”

Whether the update is faced with legal challenges is not yet known, according to the article.

This will be an interesting water quality issue to watch, both for Northern Nevada and Northern California.

LakeTahoe

WETLAB’s Insight into Water Wars

A Little Bit of History Repeating: California Water Wars

Look throughout history, and water’s vital importance has played a key role in shaping our planet, our societies and our politics. That’s why making sure what water we have is useable is so important, and why we take our water quality work seriously at Wetlab. Just look to our neighbor to the west – California’s history with water has occasionally been a contentious one. The center of the conflict is just a few hours south on Highway 395 along the Eastern Sierra.

In the beginning of the last century as Los Angeles started to outgrow local water sources, William Mulholland, head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, acquired water rights throughout the Owens Valley and up to Mono Lake.

This heavily impacted agriculture and ranching in the area, turning Owens Lake into a dust bowl, leading farmers to try to destroy the aqueduct.  This was the backdrop for the 1974 film Chinatown, staring Jack Nicholson, which fictionalized unscrupulous dealings that brought water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles via the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Environmental groups worked to mitigate the damage, and the Mono Lake Committee through litigation was able to stop Mono Lake from the same fate as Owens Lake to the south in the 1990s with a plan that should partially restore the receding body of water.

But tension still exists over the century-old water dispute, with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power recently challenging the Mammoth Lakes Water District, filing suit over water rights to Mammoth Creek, according to www.sierrawave.net.

“The Mammoth Creek flow is approximately 25% of the City’s water export from the Eastern Sierra,” says the agency in a complaint filed in Mono County Superior Court, as quoted in www.courthousenews.com.

“The citizens of Los Angeles depend on flows from Mammoth Creek, and the L.A. Department of Water and Power has a responsibility for protecting the city’s water rights,” said DWP Director of Operations Marty Adams, in a written statement as quoted by the www.northhollywood.patch.com. “Taking water from Mammoth Creek reduces the volume of water to which Los Angeles has prior rights, that can be delivered to the citizens of Los Angeles, directly translating to our customers who pay our water rates.”

The head of Mammoth’s water district Greg Norby disputed the claim in the same article: “It’s fundamentally false and without merit,” he said. “Less than 1 percent of their water is exported from here. We’ve told them the amount is immeasurable, but they won’t listen.”

But the effects on Mammoth would be more damaging, Norby said. We’ll have to wait and see what the resolution is to this latest chapter in just one of the ongoing water rights sagas of the west.

Water is celebrated in HCM #742 the aqueduct c...

Image via Wikipedia

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At the 15th annual Lake Tahoe Summit in Homewood, CA this summer, hosted by Senator Dianne Feinstein and attended by Senator Harry Reid, Senator Dean Heller, California Governor Jerry Brown and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, policy makers came up with an important plan for Lake Tahoe.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to restore the lake’s clarity to 97.4 feet by 2076, a lofty goal aiming for historic levels before runoff and pollution clouded the mountain lake’s clear waters.

Most recent measurements have the lake’s clarity – measured by lowering a white disk (called a Secchi disk) into the water and seeing how far down it can still be spotted – at 64.4 feet.

The plan, developed by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, is called the Total Maximum DailyLoad (TMDL), capping the amount of pollution and runoff working its way into the lake – particularly from urban storm water runoff.
It calls for area jurisdictions – the City of South Lake Tahoe, the bordering county governments in both California and Nevada and their respective road departments, to reduce sediment going into the lake by 32 percent over the next 15 years – and that’s where precise water quality monitoring comes into play.
Not only do sediments and pollutants have to be monitored, but nutrients as well, which can cause algae blooms that dramatically cloud the water. The plan targets fine sediments (which tend to “hang” in the water rather than settling to the bottom of the lake), phosphorus, and nitrogen pollutants.
Top sources of those contaminants being targeted include urban and forest storm water runoff, stream channel erosion and atmospheric deposition.
When government agencies take steps like stabilizing and re-vegetating road shoulders and eroding slopes, street sweeping, better landscaping, runoff treatment and filtration, the creation of wetlands, the re-vegetation of ski slopes, and other projects – close monitoring will be necessary to measure success.
And success is critical, considering the plan could cost as much as $100 million per year for the next 15 years, according to the Lahontan regional Water Quality Control Board, so monitoring will insure that is money well spent.

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:

  • NPDES
  • 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.