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NMSU hosts on-site wastewater treatment program

New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, in collaboration with the NMSU Department of Engineering, will host the On-site Decentralized Wastewater Systems Program at Santa Ana Pueblo April 16-17.


The third year program aims to provide each tribal community with the means to protect the public health by making training available for wastewater operators and installers that will allow them to operate their own systems.

"The training is always well attended because we have great speakers giving the presentation and because the material being taught is very concise and to the point," said Leeann DeMouche, water resource specialist in NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.
The training will cover such topics as management of wastewater treatment systems, safety, ethics and pretreatment components. The teaching curriculum is provided by the Consortium of Institutes for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment. NMSU is a member of the consortium and has a trained CIDWT facilitator.

The assessment and evaluation involves performing an assessment survey that will solicit public tribal professional opinion concerning tribal septic tanks and wastewater systems. The training is developed from information garnered in the assessment.

The training, which is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Underground Injection Control, has seen its budget double since the last time it was held, according to DeMouche.

"The EPA sees that we're really reaching out to a lot of people," DeMouche said.

Training sessions are being facilitated by DeMouche. Instructors for the training include Adrian Hanson, department head for NMSU's Department of Civil Engineering, William Lindemann, professor of plant and environmental sciences at NMSU and Bruce Lesikar, professor and extension specialist of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas AgriLife Research and Extension.

During the first two years of the program, three training sessions were conducted, including two introductory on-site wastewater sessions and a course on high strength waste.

More than 16 pueblos and tribes in New Mexico have attended the trainings, allowing 75 tribal members to receive continuing education units (CEUs) toward their New Mexico operator's license.

"I enjoy working with tribes because you always see new faces and you keep raising the bar of knowledge," DeMouche said.

The next training session will be June 30-July 1 at Sandia Pueblo, followed by a third training at Santa Ana Pueblo August 19-20.

"In the future, we're hoping to increase site visits to be able to work with tribes on an individual basis on some of their other needs," DeMouche said.

All tribal communities, Indian Health Services and the New Mexico Environmental Department are invited to attend the training. For more information, contact DeMouche at (575) 646-3973.