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Feds Examine Albuquerque Stormwater

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

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.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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