Recognizing The Importance Of Arizona’s Unique Model For Improving Public Health And Safety
By Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will be able to expand clean up from historic industrial contamination at polluted sites in Arizona under the proposed budget announced by Governor Doug Ducey on Friday. This budget recognizes the importance of the existing funding strategy for the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF), which is the state Superfund program. The model to fund cleanup is more equitable to business and encourages faster response, unlike the model used by most other states and the federal government.
The WQARF program identifies, assesses and mitigates the threat of contamination to groundwater and overlying soil at hazardous waste sites in the state. Generally, this work is funded by responsible parties who pay for cleanup for their portion of the contamination. But, when no financially viable responsible party can be identified, it creates ‘orphan shares’ and a need for the state to address contamination. The proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Arizona budget allocates $15 million from the Corporate Income Tax to address contamination at orphaned sites. If passed by the legislature, it would be the first time WQARF has been fully funded to address orphan shares since before the Great Recession.
“Our mission is to protect public health and the environment, and this funding is essential in continuing our progress to do so,” said Misael Cabrera, ADEQ Director. “Without this financial support, work would possibly slow or even stop at some sites, while also impacting our ability to address emerging contaminants or contamination in other areas of Arizona. We celebrate and welcome the opportunity to be responsible stewards of state funds, while also making this a better state to live, work and play.”
FY 2021 Budget – The Arizona Way:
ADEQ has a proven record for cleaning up sites and continuing to explore technological and administrative options to accelerate cleanup through lean management principles. ADEQ remains focused on completing Remedial Investigations faster to identify effective cleanup options, executing well-planned mobilizations to assess contamination efficiently, and deploy innovative cleanup technologies as they are developed and proven to save time and money.
Since 2013, ADEQ completed cleanup and removed 6 sites from the WQARF registry. This was a first in program history, with no sites removed from the list in the first 25 years of the WQARF being established.
Between Fiscal Year 2016 to Fiscal Year 2019, the WQARF program has:
Treated more than 7.2 billion gallons of groundwater.
Extracted more than 2.4 billion pounds of metals and other hazardous waste.
Removed 12,983 pounds of volatile organic compounds.
Addressed 3,411 tons of contaminated soil.
However, there is still work to be done. ADEQ estimates more than 40,000 acre-feet of contaminated groundwater remains in Arizona and needs to be addressed. The proposed budget from Governor Ducey will further support clean up and ADEQ’s mission to protect and enhance public health and the environment. Visit the ADEQ My Community webpage at azdeq.gov/wqarf-registry for more information and to learn what is being done to address contamination at WQARF sites in your area.
Under the Environmental Quality Act of 1986, the Arizona State Legislature established the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in 1987 as the state agency for protecting and enhancing public health and the environment of Arizona. For more information, visit azdeq.gov.