By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 8/30/19
The new Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) Water Quality Laboratory (Lab) has the pleasant new building smell, and in mid-August giddy employees - happy to share their new work home - welcomed the public to tour the facility. District 6 City Councilor, Yvonne Flores, was part of the first public tour who walked the halls with LCU Deputy Director for Wastewater, John Mrozek. “It’s a fabulous new building,” Councilor Flores commented. “This will be a great asset for the City.”
It’s not just a resource for the City, nearly five times larger than the older lab building behind it…in addition to the residents of Las Cruces, the new Water Quality Lab is always happy to help smaller
utilities in the surrounding area. In an effort to learn more, Bruce Smaga and Geoff Robert from the National Solar Observatory drove down from the Sunspot Observatory outside Cloudcroft, New Mexico, about two hours away.
Smaga explained that they also do testing, that might be done more efficiently in Las Cruces, instead of sending material to Alamogordo and then to Albuquerque, especially with tests that might be time sensitive. Luis Guerra, LCU water quality lab manager, was happy to hear that.
“We’re looking to foster relationships with other organizations, and if we can help, we’re happy to figure out what that would look like,” Guerra said.
Guerra and his crew are delighted to finally have more space for the work they do; in the new wastewater lab section some of the testing was being done as the tours moved through the two different labs. LCU Senior Lab Technician, Yadira Reyna demonstrated how testing is done for the E. coli. bacteria using a pre-prepared test strip of water sealed in small plastic bubbles, which glow fluorescent under UV light. Of upmost importance: the new building provides separate water and wastewater laboratory spaces, which eliminates opportunities for cross contamination.
She said, “It’s just so much more space, and really give us an even better ability to make sure our local water and wastewater that we release into the Rio Grande is safe for the environment.”
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Deputy Director for Wastewater, John Mrozek; Pollution Prevention Manager, Laura Montoya; and LCU Water Quality Lab Manager, Luis Guerra, welcome visitors touring the new Water Quality Lab.