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Environment

Underground science lab in Black Hills reaches 9 billion gallons of treated water

WWTF pic.jpg
Sanford Underground Research Facility
The Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Black Hills run by the Sanford Underground Research Facility.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead is celebrating a milestone: It’s treated 9 billion gallons of water since 2008.

The facility’s Wastewater Treatment Plant in the northern Black Hills filters both groundwater and water from the Grizzly Gulch reservoir.

Ken Noren is the foreman of the plant for the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority.

“Other facilities do take the water and drink it, so we’re trying to be good stewards and have the cleanest water we can actually discharge,” he said.

Noren said filtration benefits fish and people living downstream.

One method of filtration is the introduction of native organisms that eat contaminants in the water. The treatment plant also uses gravity filtration to remove pollutants such as iron, ammonia and cyanide. The treated water is released into Gold Run Creek.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility is in the former Homestake gold mine. The mine closed in 2002 and was later repurposed as a center for science experiments, necessitating the pumping of water out of mined areas deep underground.

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