Feds Examine Albuquerque Stormwater

  •  Ed Williams
  •  May 20, 2015
Stormwater flowing from the Tijeras Arroyo into the Rio Grande in early May —Ed Williams / KUNM

Stormwater flowing from the Tijeras Arroyo into the Rio Grande in early May
—Ed Williams / KUNM

Stormwater is a major source of pollution in the Rio Grande. The U.S. Geological Survey released a nine-year study of stormwater in the Albuquerque area last week, finding high concentrations of pollutants in the city’s arroyos.

Researchers at the USGS found generally low levels of volatile organic compounds, PCBs and pesticides in Albuquerque’s stormwater. But they did find contamination from E. Coli at levels that exceed water quality standards. They also found high levels of toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that can come from burning diesel, gas or wood.

All of Albuquerque’s stormwater flows into the Rio Grande and E. Coli contamination has been an ongoing problem for the river—the bacteria frequently reaches concentrations that violate the Clean Water Act. The Environmental Protection Agency and local governments are currently working on a plan to keep polluted stormwater from reaching the river.

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