Western Environmental
Testing Laboratory
Water Runoff Testing

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. 

WETLAB has been participating in Snapshot Day for several years now.  We’re proud of our commitment to education, and we hope to inspire ecological stewardship in students of all ages, while also showcasing various career paths they might not have considered previously.  WETLAB directed three monitoring stations this year, meaning we were given the chance to inspire over one hundred students.  Below is a guest blog written by Mary Kay Wagner, the coordinator for Snapshot Day. 


Education on the River: Truckee River Snapshot Day

Mary Kay Wagner, Lower Truckee River Snapshot Day Coordinator

The ultimate learning experience occurs when students perform their own investigations and discovery.  That opportunity was provided for Washoe County School District students during the 15th Annual Truckee River Snapshot Day on May 15, 2015. Under the guidance of resource professionals, students take a picture of one-moment in time of the Truckee River by collecting water quality data and studying the riparian habitat.  They also learn about watershed concerns and stewardship practices.

For the lower Truckee River segment, nine schools sent 239 students ranging from 4th grade to high school to participate in the event. The student monitoring teams are pre-assigned to various monitoring sites to perform a stream walk (visual assessment), collect field data and water quality samples, and take photos. Streams are field tested for dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH, and temperature. Water samples are taken to the Nevada State Health Lab and analyzed for turbidity, nutrients, and fecal coliform bacteria. Monitoring teams also collect debris and trash – things that don’t belong in the river.

One added value of Snapshot Day is the opportunity for students to learn and work alongside natural resource professionals, exposing the students to exciting careers and transferring ecological stewardship principles to a new batch of field recruits.

The success of this hands-on educational event is attributed to the dedicated Team Leaders from WETLAB, Great Basin Institute, Sierra Nevada Journeys, City of Sparks, City of Reno, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Nevada Department of Transportation, The Nature Conservancy and Pyramid Lake Environmental staff, who helped students understand watershed concepts and hydrology, as well as the importance of environmental stewardship.  Participating schools included Mt. View Montessori, Natchez Elementary School, High Desert Montessori, Sage Ridge Middle School, Excel Christian School, Spanish Springs High School, Washoe Innovation High School, a home-school group and the Washoe County On-Line School.


A student collects a water sample from Hunter Creek during Snapshot Day 2015.

A student collects a water sample from Hunter Creek during Snapshot Day 2015.

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.

Water Quality Award Goes To UNR Educator

WETLAB would like to congratulate Susan Donaldson, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension water quality education specialist, on receiving the McCurry Excellence in Water Quality award!

Presented by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Donaldson was recognized earlier this month for her extensive and long-time contributions to water quality in Nevada.

Highlights in Donaldson’s work in the field of water quality include leading a statewide tall whitetop and noxious weed education campaign, where she received a Silver Spike Award of Excellence, she established the Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials Nevada Program to provide water quality education for land-use decision making, she partnered with public agencies to create the Water Wise Program, and she launched a pesticide applicator safety training website with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, according to an article from Nevada Today, University of Nevada, Reno.

She has presented her work around the world, speaking at the 13th Australian Weeds Conference in Perth, Western Australia, according to the article.

“Dr. Donaldson’s water quality education efforts have greatly informed the public. She is directly responsible for helping stakeholders apply their knowledge and skills to solve community environmental challenges,” said Colleen Cripps, administrator of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection in the article. “We are thrilled to be able to recognize her efforts with this year’s Wendell McCurry Award.”

The award, established in 1999, honors Wendell McCurry who, over a 33-year career, advocated for water quality, established Nevada’s water quality standards and represented the state on the National Association of Clean Water Administrators.

WETLAB appreciates Donaldson’s work in water quality and specifically her contributions to educating both our state’s decision makers and the public on the important issues of water quality.