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Van Lewis, Manager
(19 years with M&O, manager 9 years) 9 Inspectors/staff

The Environmental Management Department is staffed by certified Environmental Inspectors who conduct federally mandated inspections and oversee the remediation of any environmental quality issues that are identified. APS’ Inspectors maintain over 20 specialized certifications and licenses that include Asbestos Contractor Supervisor, Asbestos Inspector, Asbestos Management Planner, and Asbestos Project Designer. Certifications are also required in Hazardous Waste Operations, Water Quality, Waste Water Systems, and Indoor Air Quality.

Clean and safe indoor air is non-negotiable for classrooms as poor air quality — due to mold and other contaminants — results in highly demonstrable negative health effects and are detrimental to students’ ability to focus on their school work. Irritated eyes, runny nose, sore throat, or headache caused by toxins avert students’ attention away from classroom lessons.

The Department’s principal purpose is furthering academic performance through preserving the environmental quality of learning spaces. Findings of asbestos, radon, mold, and lead-based paint are promptly addressed in steadily maintaining ambient indoor air quality and safe facilities. Inspectors are also responsible for the quality of potable water and waste water treatments in meeting state and federal drinking water and ground water standards compliance.

APS’ Environmental Management Department, launched in 1989 when asbestos abatement legislation became effective, is the sole in-house environmental management program throughout New Mexico school districts and one of very few in the nation. The Department provides an unparalleled environmental program, evidenced by APS never failing an EPA asbestos inspection audit. (The APS model is being used as a model for EPA Region 6.)

Because the Department is charged with staying ahead of EPA and OSHA mandates, their work is primarily conducting regularly scheduled inspections (monthly, quarterly, annually, or every three years). Reactive work consists of that initiated by other M&O departments; Facilities Design + Construction and other APS Divisions; and occupants of District schools and administrative facilities. Occupant complaints, often of suspicious odors, are responded to and investigated immediately. And should an M&O Department or FD+C need to perform maintenance or renovation construction that will impact building materials (floors, ceilings, walls, plumbing), they must first request an AHERA Compliance Work Plan (permit) prior to beginning the project. The Environmental Management Department reviews the historical data of the site, takes samples of the materials for analysis, and generates the permit that authorizes the work and details specifically how it is to be safely carried out.

The value of APS operating its own environment management program is incalculable. In addition to providing students with clean and safe environments beneficial to learning, it does so at a controlled and substantially reduced cost over hiring independent environmental consultants.



Supported sizeable asbestos abatement projects at select sites:

  • Del Norte High School

Developed the asbestos abatement project for the final Phase 5 demolition of the school as part of the rebuild in progress throughout the campus. The job included the safe removal of floor tile, sheetrock, and vermiculite insulation. The Department managed the bid petition and evaluation process and oversaw the abatement on this $1.2 million project conducted over three months.

  • City Center

The elevators in both towers of City Center received major upgrades in the 2014-15 fiscal year which included the abatement of the sprayed-on asbestos fire proofing insulation. (See more in Electrical Department section of this Report on page 60.)

  • Dolores Gonzales Elementary School

The last of the remaining asbestos at the school was removed during the 2014-15 FY remodel. Eradicating asbestos District wide was at one time a goal, until it was ascertained that a safer approach in handling the toxic material is to simply manage it in place until construction work is scheduled. The school, built in 1975, had quite a lot of floor tile and sheet rock containing asbestos, but as remodel projects have taken place, it has steadily been removed. Every APS renovation or remodel presents the never squandered opportunity to abate asbestos containing building materials.

  • Wherry Elementary School

Twelve thousand square feet of floor tile and related carpet containing asbestos were abated in preparation for the large remodel of the school conducted by FD+C.

Provided oversight and advisory consultation regarding environmental safety considerations in the Fuel Station upgrades

The Environmental Management Department Manager, with an extensive background in overseeing large capacity underground fuel storage and working with hydrogeologists, assisted in selecting the most appropriate and safe equipment and fuel delivery choices. (See more about the Fuel Station upgrades in the Fleet Maintenance section on page 66.)

Reinstalled drinking water chlorination system at Camp Gallagher

The reopening of Camp Gallagher in 2014-15 required an evaluation of the existing drinking water system that had not been in use since 1996. As the old chlorination system couldn’t be adjusted to properly regulate chlorine levels in meeting EPA drinking water standards, the Department conducted the necessary sampling and research in finding a new system, then redesigned and installed it into the existing plumbing scheme. (See more about the reopening of Camp Gallaher on page 14 of this Report.)

Department Manager drafted Operations and Maintenance Plans for wells and drinking water systems at select sites

In meeting the New Mexico Environmental Department requirement that written guidelines exist for all APS wells and other drinking water systems, procedures were formally documented for systems at Corrales and Los Padillas Elementary Schools, Polk Middle School, and Sandia Mountain Natural History Center (jointly operated by APS and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science). The Center provides ecology education and field experiences to APS and other New Mexico students. As each site’s water system is unique, specific procedures and details pertaining to each site’s system were incorporated into a prototype design.

PM Direct scheduling increased 13.6%

As environmental management is a rarity in the vast majority of school districts, and environmental inspections don’t quite fit the definition of “preventive maintenance,” fully utilizing the SchoolDude WO system has been a bit inconsistent and clumsy. Nonetheless, the Department is adding inspections that can be captured in PM Direct – increasing the number 13.6% over the previous fiscal year and 614.2% since 2009 when SchoolDude was first utilized. (Note last 2015-16 Goal below.)


Completed the Department Procedures Manual

The Manual formalizes the procedures and policies — and references OSHA, EPA, and AHERA requirements — in the Environmental Inspectors carrying out daily work. Manuals for all eight M&O service departments and the M&O Warehouse are now completed.

Established a District wide norovirus response protocol

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis that, like all viral infections, are impervious to antibiotics and spread very quickly, particularly within schools systems due to the high degree of person-to-person contact. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining and intestines, causing an acute onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea, most commonly in children. Young children and the elderly are most at risk for more severe or prolonged infection.

The Environmental Management Department collaborated with Albuquerque and New Mexico Environmental Health Departments, APS Nursing Services, APS Food and Nutrition Services, and the M&O Building Services Department in developing the protocol to address illness occurrences promptly and scrupulously in eliminating the likelihood of the virus spreading. As the program relies heavily on custodial response, the Building Services Manager provides guidance and procedures to custodial staffs throughout the District. The program may eventually be used in schools around the state.


Status of 2014-15 Fiscal Year Goals

    • Renew the Wastewater Discharge Permit for wetlands at Corrales Elementary School. In process with completion expected by June 30, 2016
    • Refurbish the wetland cells to ensure proper wastewater treatment at Corrales Elementary School. Renewal of permit in process; waiting to see permit requirements
    • Redistribute tasks of the Inspectors to be more specialized and conserve time and resources. Goal aborted as not viable in foreseeable future. Will revisit at a later date

2014-15 Fiscal Year Goals

    • Conduct asbestos abatement in Building M at Lincoln Complex in preparation of administrative personnel currently located at the APS Montgomery Complex moving into the soon to be remodeled Lincoln facility. Asbestos containing floor tile and sheet rock will be safely removed before renovation commences.
    • Modify the SchoolDude WO system to accommodate the classification of work as a specific type of inspection in addition to PM. Currently, a work order has to be classified as either one or the other (an inspection or PM) but needs to be recorded as both as well as specify the type of inspection, such as asbestos or water sampling. This will greatly aid in scheduling inspections through PM Direct as well as more accurately record keeping and tracking PM work. (Note related following goal.)
    • Add more environmental inspections to the PM Direct schedule.


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