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Bill Harlan

The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced today that Sanford Lab?s water treatment crew will receive the state?s 2012 Operations and Maintenance Award. The honor went to 91 of the 400 or so water treatment facilities in the state. It was based on inspections, reporting and on the performance of each plant. The news comes on the heels of last week?s report about the excellent results from last year?s monitoring of Whitewood Creek by an independent contractor.

Our water treatment plant removes iron from water pumped from underground. Under an agreement with Homestake Mining Co., we also treat water from the company?s Grizzly Gulch tailings impoundment, which contains trace amounts of ammonia.

The water treatment team received similar awards from the state in 2009 and 2010. No awards were given for 2011 because the program was being revamped. ?As a team effort, this is a great achievement,? Surface Operations Foreman Dan Regan said. ?It?s a testament to everyone?s dedication.? So, for the second week in a row, we?ll name our plant operators. They are Troy Derby, Duane Ennis, Pat Hasson, David Johnson, Ken Noren and Jackson Pahl.

It?s worth noting that 40 inches of snow has fallen in April?with a week left to go in the month?and that it hasn?t affected the operation of the plant. ?We all live in the Black Hills,? Duane Ennis said. ?You just pull on your snowsuit and go.? However, when warmer temperatures return?maybe to as high as 70 degrees F. by the weekend?there will be a deluge of snowmelt into the underground. ?That will be cleaner, cooler water, so they will have to make some adjustments,? Regan said.

For example, rotating biological contactors in the plant, which remove ammonia, need warm water to stay healthy. That will mean increasing the flow of warmer water from the deep pool, below 6,000 feet underground. No worries. Plant operators have years? of experience making those adjustments.