Due to the large geographical size and the diverse land/water uses, the University of New Mexico (UNM) has operated its own potable/drinking water system on the Central Campus and portions of the North Campus for decades. UNM’s own water system continues to save the university more than $100,000 per year in operating costs, as opposed to buying our potable/drinking water from the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (A/BCWUA).
Drinking water supplied by the UNM system continues to be safer and of much better quality than required by all state and federal drinking water standards. The UNM Physical Plant Department (PPD) Utilities Division and the Department of SRS work together to try to cost-effectively maintain the best quality drinking water for our campus customers.
To keep our campus customers informed about the quality of their drinking water we annually produce a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) that is delivered in hard copy to all faculty and staff who work on the Albuquerque Campuses. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires all public water systems above a certain size to publicize drinking water quality information to their customers, including the annual CCRs.
The drinking water for UNM’s Central Campus and portions of the North Campus is supplied by groundwater pumped from the campus well. Due to geographical separations and limited utility connections, the Hospital and South Campuses are primarily supplied by Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (A/BCWUA) drinking water. During UNM system outages, all campuses use A/BCWUA water. For information regarding A/BCWUA water quality, contact the A/BCWUA Water Quality Information line at 857–8260 or visit 2012 Water Quality Report.
The well that supplies the Central and North Campus produces water at a rate of 2,000 gallons per minute from a maximum depth of about 720 feet below the ground. This water is pumped to a 1,250,000 gallon storage tank from which the chlorinated water is distributed.
As required for all public water systems above a certain size, the NMED conducted an independent, assessment of the vulnerability of UNM’s drinking water source to contamination. This assessment is contained the NMED’s November 2002 UNM Source Water Assessment that indicates a “moderately high” susceptibility rank.
UNM remains involved in a trichloroethylene (TCE) contaminated groundwater investigation with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). The investigation has discovered low levels of TCE in the upper (shallow) aquifer on portions of the Central Campus and off-campus areas to the south. No TCE has yet been detected in the lower (deeper) and higher producing sections of the aquifer that flow into UNM’s water supply well. Given a host of variables, the source of the TCE contamination remains unknown.
Regardless, third-party pump testing to assess the connection or isolation of the upper/shallow sections to the lower/deeper sections of the aquifer strongly suggest that they are hydraulically isolated from each other. This is good news for UNM. Regardless, just to continue to be safe, the water from UNM’s well is sampled and analyzed each month. The monthly testing of water from our drinking water well continues to indicate the absence of TCE at or above the laboratory analytical method detection limit.
If you desire to have input into future decision making regarding drinking water quality at UNM or wish to obtain a copy of the NMED’s November 2002 UNM Source Water Assessment, contact Travis Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or (505) 934-7698.
- Inside UNM