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$12.6 million investment in New Mexico desalination research facility to combat drought and climate change

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) - Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Congressman Gabe Vasquez have announced a $12.6 million investment in the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility (BGNDRF) in Alamogordo, New Mexico. This funding, provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is part of the Biden-Harris administration's comprehensive strategy to enhance the West's resilience against drought and climate change.

The BGNDRF, owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, is a state-of-the-art facility that collaborates with government agencies, universities, and private sector companies for desalination research studies, pilot-scale projects, and small demonstration projects. The facility focuses on brackish groundwater desalination, renewable energy integration, development of systems for rural and Tribal communities, concentrate management, and treatment of water produced from oil and gas production. It is the only major research facility in the United States dedicated solely to the desalination of brackish and impaired groundwaters.

Secretary Haaland highlighted the importance of investments in desalination, water treatment, and reuse in addressing drought and climate change. The $12.6 million investment comes as part of the Investing in America agenda, which allocates $8.3 billion for Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure projects over five years. This funding aims to advance drought resilience and expand access to clean water for families, farmers, and wildlife. The investment will be used to revitalize water delivery systems, advance water purification and reuse techniques, expand water storage capacities, and provide state-of-the-art research facilities for researchers involved in desalination studies, pilot-scale projects, and small demonstration projects.

In 2017, PFAS (Per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances) contamination was discovered in an evaporation pond at the facility, with two wells affected in 2019. This contamination hindered the facility's ability to safely treat water. The new funding will be used to construct an advanced water treatment facility and associated infrastructure at the BGNDRF, addressing the PFAS contamination issue. This will restore access to all brackish wells and reduce the operational load on the other two wells, allowing for full utilization of the facility. The new building will be designed to treat up to two wells at a time, with potential future connections to the remaining wells at the facility.

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