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Domenici Lauds Water Purification Work in Gulf Region, Receives Update on Sandia Lab H2O Projects

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today praised the work being done by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S Navy in the Gulf region to purify water in support of medical needs in response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and U.S. Navy mobilized two identical water desalination and purification systems known as the Expeditionary Unit for Water Purification (EUWP) for use along the Gulf Coast. The EUWP can purify contaminated and saline waters to better-than-EPA drinking water standards, and the two units jointly can produce up to 200,000 gallons per day. The BOR unit has been deployed to Pascagoula, Miss. while the Navy’s unit will be sent to Bay St. Louis, Miss.

"The importance of water purification programs is driven home when natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina strike. I am extremely pleased that desalination research has progressed to the point where it can help save lives, provide basic services and make an unbearable situation a little better. I am very pleased that both BOR and Navy units have been deployed to the Gulf Region, where they are helping to provide safe water for people who need it,” Domenici said.

The EUWP units were designed and constructed by the Office of Naval Research. Domenici is a major supporter of the EUWP programs and has secured $23 million for the Navy to develop these mobile systems for high-capacity water production for use in expeditionary warfare, peacekeeping, and humanitarian missions.

As chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Domenici has obtained $16 million for construction of the Tularosa Basin Desalination Facility. Upon completion, it is anticipated that the Bureau of Reclamation will select a New Mexico based institution to manage the Tularosa facility and guide its research program.

Domenici was briefed today on the recently initiated Department of Energy desalination research program implemented by Sandia National Laboratories. The lab has received $7 million over the past two years to dramatically improve water treatment technology. Sandia's desalination program was initiated to prepare new prototypes for testing at the Tularosa Facility and to develop national research plans to guide the work of the federal and non-federal agencies working in this area. This program was formalized in the recently signed Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Sandia is working on a variety of new technologies, including those that will take waste material out of water to make it usable. Dealing with these energy and waste disposal issues are paramount for making desalination a viable alternative for water supplies in New Mexico. Sandia is partnered with several other New Mexico institutions including: the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, MIOX Corporation, New Mexico State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Technology Ventures Corporation.

“ Desalination is just getting started in New Mexico. If we look around the West, we can see many examples of desalination technology at work. I am doing everything in my power to make sure that when New Mexico needs this source of water it will be affordable and feasible for our communities,” Domenici said.

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