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NNSA Project will Triple LANL’s Capacity to Save Water

October 13, 2011

WASHINGTON,
D.C. – A project funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will
provide the resources that will help Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) triple
the lab’s capacity to save water.

The upgrade
of LANL’s Sanitary Effluent Reclamation Facility (SERF), a $16.1 million
project, meets a Department of Energy and NNSA requirement for recycling water and
reducing the consumption of potable water use. The 4,350-square-foot facility
treats effluent water from LANL’s sanitary sewer system and meets a standard
equivalent to drinking water which is ultimately recycled for industrial reuse.
Using treated sanitary effluent in the cooling towers reduces LANL’s use of
potable water, derived from the regional aquifer, for such purposes.

 “The upgrade of the SERF will allow LANL to
save critical taxpayer dollars,” said Don Cook, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for
Defense Programs. “The is a clear example of how NNSA is improving the way we do
business and ensuring that NNSA is committed to improving the infrastructure
needed to meet the national nuclear security mission of protecting our
country.”

 Originally built in 2003 to test technology
for treating sanitary effluent, SERF currently enables LANL to process up to
100,000 gallons of water a day. The expansion of SERF, a new project funded in
fiscal year 2011, is under construction and will enable LANL to process up to 500,000
gallons a day. The reprocessed water will be used in cooling towers at LANL’s
supercomputing facilities and its power plant. Reprocessing of the water will
result in
savings up to 120 million gallons, enough for approximately 4,000 households,
each year.

In
addition to reducing
the amount of water withdrawn from the regional aquifer, the SERF process is expected
to allow LANL to meet the new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
permit requirements, which go into effect next July. The SERF expansion will
allow LANL to reduce the number of permitted outfalls and reduce the cost of
operating and maintaining cooling towers, in addition to extending their
lifespan due to the low silica content of the SERF treated water. 

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Established
by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S.
Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the
military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security
enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and
performance of the U.S.
nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger
from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and
effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological
emergencies in the U.S.
and abroad. NNSA homepage: http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/index.htm