Western Environmental
Testing Laboratory
Domestic Well Testing

WETLAB is a certified lab for drinking water testing in Nevada, with reciprocity for testing in California, Wyoming, and Idaho.  This means that when you send drinking water samples to WETLAB, we guarantee thorough, high-quality data that complies with regulatory standards.  We ensure that your sample is analyzed with up-to-date methods, performed with the precision and attention to detail that you require.  We analyze drinking water for regulated public water systems of all sizes and for private domestic wells.

Private domestic well owners face a unique set of circumstances not often realized by many people who utilize a community water system.  Well owners are responsible for ensuring their own water quality, which means regular water testing.  Your water can contain microscopic particulates and micro-organisms that you would be unable to detect with your naked eye.  The Environmental Protection Agency recommends testing your well regularly for several contaminants, including total coliform, pH, corrosion, nitrates, and metals.  If you experience any changes in water quality, such as rapid corrosion of pipes, undesirable tastes or smells, or increased scaly build-up, you may be interested in testing your water quality.

If you are interested in testing your private domestic well, reference this helpful guide from the UNR Cooperative Extension.  This guide will help you determine what drinking water parameters you may be interested in testing for, and what the critical limits for some contaminants are.  After you test your water, you can use this tool to help interpret your results.  Our friendly staff at WETLAB will be happy to assist you with any other questions you might have.

WETLAB provides a uniquely client-oriented lab experience that will ensure you obtain the quality lab results you seek.  Contact WETLAB at (775) 355-0202 to determine how we can help you.

Lithium Brine Testing- Methods for Analysis

In part one of this two part series, we provided an overview of WETLAB’s industry leading practices for Lithium Brine Testing. In part two, we will explore the strengths and limitations associated with each of the four testing methods, including ICP-OES- the preferred method of brine characterization.

WETLAB is an industry leader for lithium brine testing, and has excelled at characterization using ICP-OES. The four main methods of lithium brine testing each have its own strengths and limitations, which we explore below.

FAAS (Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy) involves a nebulized sample being passed through an acetylene flame and the light absorbance of a specific wavelength is then measured. Some of the potential limitations involved with FAAS characterization include low sensitivity, relatively low ionization temperature (3000°C), and only one analyte can be run at a time. Phosphates and Sulfates can also form flame-stable metal salts, which can complicate analysis.

GFAAS (Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy) involves the sample being heated in a graphite tube, and then atomized light is passed through the tube and measured at a specific wavelength. Due to heating programming and specificity, GFAAS analyses are typically done for one element at a time. GFAAS also has long sampling times, low temperature, and a limited dynamic range.

ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry) involves a nebulized sample being passed through high temperature plasma to ionize atoms, which are then isolated by their mass/charge ratio and detected directly. ICP-MS can be an excellent option for some clients, but some of the limitations for lithium analysis are that lithium is very light and can be excluded by heavier atoms, and analysis is typically limited to <0.2% dissolved solids, which means that it is not great for brines. Equipment and technician training costs are also very high with this method.

ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectroscopy) involves a nebulized sample being passed through high temperature plasma to ionize atoms, which release light at specific wavelengths. This is the preferred analytical technique for most metals in any matrix, and all metals in a complex matrix such as brine solutions. ICP-OES can handle a high amount of dissolved solids, has little chemical interference, and has robust sample introduction with high-energy plasma (~10,000°C) plasma. ICP-OES can also perform multi-element analysis, easily determining concentrations of other metals (K, Mg, B, etc).   Although ICP-OES is the preferred technique, it does have some limitations. These include moderate detection limits, typically lower than FAAS but higher than GFAAS and ICP-MS in a clean matrix. Complex matrices (such as brine) can often require dilutions from the other methods that may raise the overall Detection Limit. Also, spectral Interferences are common, but can typically be easily compensated to eliminate.

 

To determine how WETLAB can help you get the data you need with our industry leading practices, call WETLAB at (775) 355-0202 and speak with someone from our highly skilled customer and sample management team.

 

Matt Weikel, Inorganic Laboratory Manager, presented at a training hosted by Nevada Water Resources Association (NWRA) regarding WETLAB’s industry leading lithium brine testing methods. In this two part series, we will provide an overview of this presentation, and explore various methods of analysis.

Lithium Brine extraction and processing is gaining traction in Nevada. Lithium mining uses evaporation ponds, which produces a brine that lithium is then extracted from. With lithium brine gaining popularity, lithium brine testing has become an interesting and ever-changing topic.

WETLAB has always sought to develop products and practices that are in our clients’ best interest, which is why we have perfected the ideal method of lithium brine testing to meet various client needs.   Lithium brine can be characterized on four different pieces of equipment, including:

  1. FAAS (Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy)
  2. GFAAS (Graphite Furnace AAS)
  3. ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry)
  4. ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectroscopy)

WETLAB continues to excel at ICP-OES characterization, which is the preferred method of analysis for lithium brines.  Each of these methods has its own strengths and limitations, and is coupled with a digestion method to place the metals into solution. WETLAB commonly uses a two-acid digestion, HNO3 + HCl, which include EPA methods 200.2, 3010, and 3050. After the sample is digested, it is ready for analysis.  WETLAB commonly recommends using ICP-OES analysis, as it works best for the characteristics of brine, and obtaining other data metrics from the sample.

When you choose WETLAB for your lithium brine testing and characterization needs, you get a lot of benefits.   WETLAB prioritizes customer service and accurate analysis, and we’re always here to help you get what you want.   We ensure precise analysis through a robust QA/QC program coupled with several measures of internal data and accuracy checks.

Part two of this series, WETLAB Lithium Brine Testing, we will explore the strengths and limitations associated with each of the above testing methods, and determine why using WETLAB for ICP-OES analysis is ideal.

After a heavy rainfall, water runs off of non-absorbent surfaces like roads, driveways, and parking lots. While the rain pours off the pavement, it carries away all of the pollutants with it, including oil, gasoline, and sediment. These pollutants flow with the water into natural rivers, streams, and lakes. However, it’s not only the larger waterways that are affected; drainage ditches and storm water retention ponds become polluted as well. This runoff is referred to as nonpoint source pollution because it does not stem from one specific source such as an industrial facility. Due to the lack of rainfall in Nevada’s arid climate, several months of pollutants can be released during one large storm event. Characterizing the levels of pollutants in water runoff is an important task in protecting our water sources.

WETLAB has developed specialized testing suites for characterizing this runoff. These tests include turbidity, to measure the amount of sediment that has escaped the roadways, and metal levels, including lead and mercury. To find out how WETLAB can help you characterize water runoff, call us at (775) 355-0202 and talk to one of our talented project managers.

To find out more about nonpoint source pollution, visit the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) website here.

The EPA revised the Total Coliform Rule (TCR) in 2013, but these changes need to be implemented soon. By April 1, 2016, all compliant public water systems will have to implement the revised TCR requirements. At WETLAB, we take a great interest in the new regulatory measures that affect our clients, and we decided to take a closer look at what the Revised Total Coliform Rule entails.

According to the EPA, the RTCR is intended to “protect public health by ensuring the integrity of the drinking water distribution system and monitoring for the presence of microbial contamination.” Which essentially means that the RTCR confirms what the TCR has already established since 1989, and then expands upon the initial rule. The RTCR requires that all public water systems (PWS) show that they meet the legal limit for E. coli through expanded required monitoring. The rule also goes on to specify what the actual frequency and timing of the required microbial testing is; which is based on the populations served by the PWS, the type of PWS, and what type of source water the PWS uses.

To find the exact requirements of the new rule, we highly suggest visiting the EPA’s page on the RTCR here. These changes do not have to be implemented until April 1, 2016, but it is crucial to have an accurate understanding of the new rule.

At WETLAB, we strive to provide our clients with the most accurate and up-to-date information available.  If you have any questions, about this rule or any other, please call us at (775) 355-0202. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, recently finalized the Clean Water Rule.  This rule is aimed at protecting our nation’s water resources from pollution and human ruin, especially the smaller streams and wetlands.

This rule is an attempt to make a difference in larger waterways by cleaning the smaller upstream streams and wetlands that feed them.

There is no expanded authority with the instatement of the Clean Water Rule, because the EPA already has the authority to impose these regulations based on the authority granted in the Clean Water Act.

Some farmers and property owners have expressed concern about regulations regarding smaller streams, but environmental groups laud the new rule as long overdue.

WETLAB continues to test water for EPA compliance.  See how we can help you comply with the new regulations by calling us at (775) 355-0202, or emailing us at info@wetlaboratory.com

 

More information about the Clean Water Rule can be found here, via the Environmental Protection Agency.

Effective March 6, 2014: The Bureau of Mining Regulation and Reclamation (BMRR) announces updated certified methods for mercury analysis required in Part I.D of the Water Pollution Control Permit.

WETLAB will no longer utilize the analytical method 200.8, Determination of Trace Elements in Waters and Wastes by Inductively Coupled Plasma using Mass Spectrometry, for testing non-potable water from Nevada mine sites.

The updated required EPA analysis is 245.1, Determination of Mercury in Water By Cold Vapor Atomic Absorption Spectrometry. Along with this change, the BMRR is requiring that all tests that occurred in January and February are updated, using the 245.1 analytical method.

WETLAB is currently certified by EPA 245.1 and has already begun to process samples that still remain within the EPA suggested hold time.

WETLAB has also contacted clients to inform them how this change has affected their 1st quarter samples.

Please contact the WETLAB Client Services Manager Kurt Clarkson at 775-355-0202 with any questions.

Thank you

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $15 million to the State of Nevada this month, aimed at improving pollution control and drinking water infrastructure, things we think are of the utmost importance here at Wetlab.

The funding goes to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP), broken down into a $6.5 million grant for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, according to an article found on waterworld.com, and $8.5 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

The grants are just the latest in more than $320 million in EPA funding awarded over the last 24 years, according to Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator.

“Without this investment and creative financing at the federal level, many communities would not be able to provide for Nevadans’ basic needs for clean, safe drinking water and proper wastewater treatment,” Blumenfeld said.

In the past, according to the article, EPA money has funded new well construction aimed at decreasing arsenic levels in Tonopah, as well as advanced wastewater treatment in Clark County to reduce bacteria and chemicals making their way into Lake Mead.

Other water quality projects from the NDEP have ranged from non-point source pollution control, watershed protection and restoration, water efficiency improvements, wastewater reclamation, and other wastewater treatment projects on the Clean Water State SRF side, as well as drinking water infrastructure on the Drinking Water SRF side.

Water Supply News

On the supply side of our state’s water news, southern Nevada looks like it’s going to get some reprieve from dry conditions thanks to a wet fall on the Rocky Mountains’ west slope, according to mynews3.com.

The Colorado River Commission reported rainfall in some areas of up to 50 percent above normal for the month of September, which will help the more-than-half-empty Lake Mead, the primary water supply for Las Vegas.

Lake Mead is at 1,104 feet, anything below 1,075 is considered a shortage.

Here at WETLAB Western Environmental Testing Laboratory, water quality is our business. It effects everybody – from healthy drinking water to a healthy environment. But today everybody also needs to think about water quantity, not just water quality.

Water shortages are growing larger and becoming more frequent. The World Bank reports that 80 countries are experiencing water shortages and more than 2 billion people don’t have access to clean water, according to The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The problem is the inevitable consequence of a growing world population – doubling the demand on water every 21 years, according to the University.

Most of us use know the basics of using water wisely – from not running the tap while brushing your teeth to making less water intensive choices when landscaping. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is aiming to up your knowledge on how to save water through easy education and simple guidelines, available at  www.epa.gov/watersense/.

Educational tools great for the whole family include a quiz titled “ Test Your WaterSense,” a calculator will let you figure out how much you can save at home, a guide shows you local rebates for saving and more.

Their guidelines for flushing, for example, could reduce toilet flush rates by 20 percent and urinal flush rates by 50 percent, according to the Green Education Foundation.
“If one in every 10 homes in the United States were to install WaterSense labeled faucets or faucet accessories in their bathrooms, it could save 6 billion gallons of water per year, and more than $50 million in the energy costs to supply, heat and treat that water,” according to the EPA.

Those fixtures and appliances have been independently tested for efficiency and performance to meet the EPA WaterSense standard.

And it’s already working, saving 125 billion gallons of water and $2 billion in utility bills in the last five years, according to Stephanie Thornton, as quoted by the Green Education Foundation.

Here in Northern Nevada, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority also offers guidelines for saving water and implementing assigned day watering for landscaping.
We’re in a high desert environment, subject to the snow pack of the Sierra Nevada, so while last winter may have left our region relatively flush, we never know what Mother Nature has in store for us in the next year.

In Southern Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun has set up a count down to when Las Vegas could theoretically run out of water (2021!) if water usage isn’t changed.