SWaMP: Fermilab’s Surface Water Management Program

Surface water in ponds, lakes, field tiles (pink), and ditches all contribute to the amount of water on the Fermilab site. Some of this water feeds directly into the industrial cooling water system (blue) that helps cool experiments, while more confined water can result in increased wetland areas (green). Field tile and wetland investigation are still in process. Image courtesy of FESS

The fulfillment of Fermilab’s historic scientific mission is possible thanks to the cooling mechanisms put in place when the laboratory began. In particular, the industrial cooling water system, which relies heavily on surface water components such as lakes, ponds and ditches, ensures that accelerator components do not overheat while delivering high-power particle beams to the lab’s various experiments.

Fermilab has a responsibility to create a holistic surface water management program for the laboratory site. The upcoming increases in beam intensity and in the number of projects demand a thorough review of the current state of surface water infrastructure and future operational surface water needs. Such a review, along with subsequent periodic reviews, will inform a robust surface water management program.

The purpose of the laboratory’s new Surface Water Management Program, or SWaMP, is to provide the laboratory with a roadmap to integrate project cooling water demands, to inform project environmental coordination and designs, and to maintain and improve infrastructure. The main goal of SWaMP is to support the central laboratory mission of high-energy physics by ensuring environmental stewardship and sustainability well into the 21st century.

SWaMP is concerned with all surface water movement and flow on and through the Fermilab site. One goal is to achieve the necessary, delicate balance between getting water to locations where it is needed and away from places where it is a hindrance. Another objective is to retain as much stormwater as possible to limit pumping from the aquifer well and Fox River.

SWaMP, which is currently incorporated into FESS design reviews, provides guidance on all surface-water-related actions at Fermilab within the bounds of improving surface water supply (quantity and quality), conveyance and retention, while keeping a focus on future project water demands and sustainability goals.

Many of Fermilab’s procedures are related to surface water and therefore fall under the purview of SWaMP. Different divisions or sections may own specific procedures, but the interaction and outcome of an individual procedure affects the overall program. If you have any questions about SWaMP or want to become involved, contact me at x4313. All of us, no matter our position at the laboratory, have an impact on our use of water, one of the Earth’s most valuable resources.

Kate Sienkiewicz