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WATER QUALITY ENGINEER RETIRES.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE - Hisam Baqai, who headed the state office overseeing water quality in the Antelope Valley, is retiring after a 32-year career.

Baqai, the supervising engineer of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Board's Victorville office for the past 18 years, wrapped up his career with the state Friday. A replacement has not yet been named.

``I want to take some time and be with my family and travel,'' Baqai said.

Among the highlights of his career, Baqai said, is addressing the nitrate contamination in an underground plume east of Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale.

In April, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board directed Los Angeles County Sanitation District 20 to begin ``in the shortest possible time'' treating groundwater tainted by nitrates to the state drinking water standard of less than 10 milligrams per liter.

The plume, in underground water east of Air Force Plant 42, has nitrate concentrations as high as 14 milligrams per liter. No drinking-water wells draw from that area, officials said.

Nitrates are a nutrient for plants but can cause a condition known as ``blue baby'' syndrome among infants. Nitrates have leached into the underground water table from Sanitation District 20's practice of spreading treated sewage effluent on barren land to soak into the ground.

Originally from Pakistan, where he had earned an engineering degree, Baqai started his career 33 years ago as a consultant. He joined Lahontan's Victorville office in December 1987.

Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743

james.skeen(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 31, 2005
Words:251
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