Waters around LANL: Care and Stewardship

Location of Rio Grande

Rio Grande

Groundwater at LANL discharges to springs along the Rio Grande. Stream flow resulting from heavy storms and snowmelt also has the potential to reach the Rio Grande.

Still water on the Rio Grande in White Rock Canyon
Still water on the Rio Grande in White Rock Canyon

Sediment traps upstream reduce contaminents in the river
Sediment traps upstream reduce contaminents in the river

Plutonium in the Rio Grande is well below regulatory limits.

Fact Check » «

Rivers all across the northern hemisphere contain small amounts of plutonium from fallout from atmospheric testing in the 1950s and 1960s. The total plutonium in the riverbed of the Rio Grande from the Los Alamos Canyon confluence to the Elephant Butte reservoir has the same weight as about 6 paper clips and is 1000 times lower than the residential limit. This amount is equivalent to other northern hemisphere watercourses. The residential limit assumes a person spending his or her lifetime from birth in a small area, drinking only water from that area.

The Rio Grande is safe for swimming.

Fact Check » «

There are no restrictions on swimming in the Rio Grande. However, NMED has listed the stretch between Cochiti and San Ildefonso as impaired. Further, independent studies commissioned by the Buckman Direct Diversion Project reported that the probable causes of impairment - biological organisms, turbidity, PCBs, and gross alpha - are readily removed in the drinking water treatment process. Because concentrations of these contaminants are similar upstream and downstream from LANL, these contaminants are not derived from LANL operations.



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