Newsroom: Press Release Archive: June 2003
  • June 30, 2003: ADEQ Installs 'Sentinel' Wells to Protect Gilbert Drinking Water Well
  • June 26, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Pilot Projects to Test Methods to Remove Arsenic from Drinking Water
  • June 25, 2003: ADEQ Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Underground Storage Tank Cleanup
  • June 20, 2003: ADEQ Fire Support Update - 2 p.m. June 20, 2003
  • June 17, 2003: ADEQ Requesting Water Quality Improvement Grant Proposals
  • June 17, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens Extends Solid Waste Rules to Help Communities Recovering from Rodeo-Chediski Fire
  • June 16, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Financial Support for Development of Stormwater Management Plans
  • June 10, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens, Attorney General Goddard Fine Valley Refining $75,000 for Air Pollution Violations
  • June 10, 2003: ADEQ to Convene Community Action Council For South Phoenix Toxics Reduction
  • June 10, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Promotes Program To Pay for Removal of Abandoned Underground Storage Tanks in State's Rural Areas
  • June 09, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Says Pipeline Safe, Closer Monitoring Required
  • June 09, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Unveils a Web-based System to Apply for Stormwater Discharge Permits
  • June 06, 2003: ADEQ Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Underground Storage Tank Cleanup

ADEQ Installs 'Sentinel' Wells to Protect Gilbert Drinking Water Well

PHOENIX (June 30, 2003) -- As part of an effort to prevent groundwater contamination from reaching a drinking water production well in Gilbert, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is installing two 'sentinel' monitoring wells between known groundwater contamination and town well number 15, one of the town's municipal water supply wells.

The monitoring wells were installed into the upper and lower aquifers to provide officials with advance warning of contaminant migration toward the municipal well. The monitoring wells will also provide information about the vertical extent of contamination and the direction of groundwater flow.

Based on information available, ADEQ officials do not suspect that the contamination has reached the lower aquifer, which serves as the primary drinking water source for the municipal drinking water well. However, town officials are aware of the issue and are closely monitoring water quality at the well.

In early 2001, the Town of Gilbert discovered PCE contamination at one of its monitoring wells that may be linked to a former copper sulfate production facility near Cooper Road and Commerce Avenue.

ADEQ first learned of the contamination in 1990, when soil samples detected the presence of perchloroethylene (PCE) in soil and groundwater at the facility. PCE is a solvent with a wide range of industrial applications.

PCE concentrations, which fluctuate seasonally, peaked at 90 micrograms per liter in September 2002 at a monitor well between the suspected source of contamination and the town's municipal water supply well number 15. PCE at the suspected source of contamination have recently been detected at concentrations as high as 1,300 micrograms per liter. The state and federal safe drinking water standard for PCE is 5 micrograms per liter.

Activity at one of the town's recharge ponds and increased groundwater pumping in the area due to drought conditions may be contributing to the spread of groundwater contamination.

Since 2001, ADEQ has been working closely with town officials to reduce the use of that recharge pond and to determine the extent of the contamination. No contamination has been detected at the municipal supply well, but both ADEQ and Gilbert officials agreed to add the monitoring wells as an added protection measure, while a long-term cleanup strategy is developed.

ADEQ is coordinating with town officials concerning plans to clean up PCE contamination at the site.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Pilot Projects to Test Methods to Remove Arsenic from Drinking Water

PHOENIX (June 26, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens announced today that the towns of Rimrock and Valley Vista in Yavapai County have been selected to serve as technology demonstration and testing sites to evaluate methods of removing arsenic from drinking water systems.

The towns were among 12 selected nationwide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of a $20 million national research program to help water systems with 10,000 or fewer customers develop cost-effective technologies to lower the concentration of arsenic in drinking water in time to meet the EPA's January 2006 compliance deadline.

Each town will receive a full-scale drinking water treatment system that will be used to evaluate different arsenic removal technologies. When the study is complete, the operating systems will continue to provide water for the towns that meets the arsenic standard and other safe drinking water requirements.

"This is a great deal for Rimrock and Valley Vista,"; Owens said. "We have been advocating strongly for federal funding to help Arizona's rural communities meet the challenge posed by the new arsenic standard, and the fact that Arizona received two of 12 grants awarded nationwide tells me we are making progress."

In October 2001, the EPA announced its decision to lower the allowable concentration of arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 ppb by 2006. Since that time, ADEQ has led the effort to help 1,100 water systems in Arizona comply with the new standard. Arizona is among a handful of western states whose soil contains naturally occurring arsenic in concentrations ranging from 10 to 200 ppb.

Rimrock, located just north of Camp Verde east of Interstate 17, was selected to demonstrate an iron-based absorption media technology manufactured by Adedge. As the name implies, absorption technologies remove arsenic by absorbing it from water as it passes through a treatment system.

Valley Vista, located in the Southwest Portion of Oak Creek Village, was chosen to demonstrate an iron modified activated alumina absorption media technology manufactured by Kinetico. Iron modified activated alumina is another absorption technology with potential to remove arsenic as it passes through a treatment system.

"Reducing the arsenic content in drinking water is particularly challenging for small water systems in outlying areas that rely on groundwater wells as their drinking water sources," Owens said. "That is why ADEQ has dedicated its resources to helping the state's rural communities."

The technology demonstrations will begin as early as July during the first phase of the EPA's research project. Owens said he is hopeful that other Arizona communities will be selected in the second round of testing.

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ADEQ Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Underground Storage Tank Cleanup

PHOENIX (June 25, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is seeking comments from the public concerning a planned clean up of soil and groundwater contaminated with petroleum from a leaking underground storage tank at a former Levitz Furniture site in Phoenix.

The proposed Corrective Action Plan for remediation of the site located at 2801 W. Indian School Road, will use a dual-phase extraction system to remove existing soil and groundwater contamination at the site.

The DPE system uses a vacuum process to extract both vapors and groundwater from the underground contaminated area. The groundwater is then separated from the vapors and treated using aboveground treatment methods.

ADEQ encourages public participation and welcomes comments on the proposed corrective action plan for this site.

Comments should be submitted in writing by July 29, 2003 to ADEQ/UST/LUST Enforcement Unit, Attn: Jason Howard, 1110 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007. If sufficient public interest has been demonstrated within 30 days of this notice, ADEQ will announce and hold a public meeting. ADEQ will respond to comments in writing, following the public comment period.

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ADEQ Fire Support Update - 2 p.m. June 20, 2003

PHOENIX (June 20, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is providing the following support for the Aspen fire located on Mt. Lemmon in Pima County:

  • ADEQ deployed its Hazardous Air Response team Thursday at 11:30 p.m. to assess the air quality in San Manuel. HART positions air quality monitors in communities likely to be affected by the smoke plume and reports the air quality status to the on-scene coordinator. Results from the sampling indicate that air quality presently meets health-based standards. In the next 12 hours, HART will monitor particulate matter from a site in Oracle and other residential areas potentially impacted by smoke from the fire.
  • ADEQ responded to requests Thursday evening to provide technical assistance to Pima and Pinal county officials, the Arizona Department of Emergency Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. ADEQ is evaluating resource needs and developing a strategy in conjunction with county officials to enable residents to return safely to their homes.
  • Once the fire has moved away from residential areas, ADEQ will evaluate drinking water systems to determine water quality and inspect the area to identify potential hazards. ADEQ also will be distributing brochures to private well owners outlining procedures to evaluate fire damage and what steps to take to ensure safe drinking water from their wells.

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ADEQ Requesting Water Quality Improvement Grant Proposals

PHOENIX (June 17, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is requesting Water Quality Improvement Grant applications in order to allocate $1.2 million statewide for projects that prevent or reduce nonpoint source water pollution.

Grant applications must be submitted to ADEQ by 3 p.m., Sept. 24, 2003.

Each year ADEQ allocates funding to public and private entities in Arizona though its Water Quality Improvement Grant Program. The funds are provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.

Each applicant must provide 40 percent matching funds to implement an "on-the-ground" water quality improvement project to improve and protect water quality in a water body in the state of Arizona by addressing a nonpoint source of water pollution.

Nonpoint source pollution is the nation's largest source of water quality problems. It occurs when rainfall, melting snow, or irrigation runoff picks up pollutants and deposits them in rivers, lakes, coastal waters or other ground water sources. Agriculture, forestry, grazing, septic systems, recreational boating, urban runoff and construction all contribute to this problem.

In the past three years, ADEQ's Water Quality Improvement Grant Program has provided more than $6 million to both public and private entities to improve water quality in the state of Arizona.

A series of workshops will be held around the state to help those interested in applying for a grant learn more about the Water Quality Improvement Grant Program.

To obtain a copy of the grant manual, contact Danese Cameron at (602) 771-4569 or toll free at (800) 234-5677, Ext. 771-4569. The grant manual can also be downloaded from the ADEQ Web site.

A schedule of these grant workshops is provided below:

June 242 p.m.Council Chambers
1255 Marina Blvd.
Bullhead City, AZ
June 252 p.m.Coconino Community College
2800 S. Lone Tree Rd.
Room 533
Flagstaff, AZ
July 82 p.m.Inn Suites Hotel
475 N. Granada Ave.
Tucson, AZ
July 92 p.m.Pete Castro Maintenance Center
401 Giulio Cesare Ave.
Sierra Vista, AZ
July 102 p.m.Old Courthouse, 60 S. Court St.
Nogales, AZ
July 162 p.m.Cottonwood Public Library, 100 S. Sixth St.
Cottonwood, AZ
July 172 p.m.Holiday Inn Midtown, 4321 N. Central Ave.
Salon A
Phoenix, AZ
July 232 p.m.Northland Pioneer College
1001 W. Deuce of Clubs Learning Center
Room 108
Show Low, AZ
July 245 p.m.Council Chambers
174 S. Main
Eagar, AZ

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ADEQ Director Owens Extends Solid Waste Rules to Help Communities Recovering from Rodeo-Chediski Fire

PHOENIX (June 17, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today extended an exemption to the state's solid waste disposal laws that will allow residents in Navajo County to bury trees burned or damaged by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire without obtaining permits or other approvals from the department until July 31, 2004.

The exemption allows residents and Navajo County officials to bury burned trees from about 8,600 acres of private property in forested areas impacted by the fire.

Without the exemption, trees not reused productively would be categorized as solid waste, requiring residents to haul them to a landfill and pay "tipping" fees for disposal. Burying trees burned or damaged by the fire poses no threat to public health or the environment.

"Governor Napolitano and I are committed to assisting Navajo County's recovery efforts, extending the exemption will lower the costs of disposal and provide residents and County officials flexibility in their cleanup efforts," said Owens.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Financial Support for Development of Stormwater Management Plans

PHOENIX (June 16, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today offered 34 Arizona communities and counties financial assistance up to $25,000 each to help them develop municipal stormwater management plans.

The plans are required as part of the Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System's expanded Stormwater Phase II program, which complies with a federal requirement to reduce municipal stormwater runoff pollution, one of the nation's largest sources of water quality problems.

Under the program, communities located in urban areas with more than 50,000 residents or those with more than 1,000 residents per square mile are required to develop and implement plans to reduce stormwater runoff to the maximum extent practicable within their jurisdictions.

The financial assistance program will help local governments refine and implement their plans during the next five years. ADEQ will provide each participating municipality with financial assistance up to $25,000 on a reimbursable basis to help with implementing aspects of their stormwater management program, including community education. Communities will be required to provide 40 percent matching funds, which can be paid for using in-kind services.

"I am very glad to offer assistance to help these communities meet the new requirement," Owens said. "These communities are for the most part small cities and towns that have not had to deal with stormwater management before, so we want to do everything we can to help them comply."

Communities included under the new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, or MS4, program include Apache Junction, Avondale, Camp Verde, Cave Creek, Chandler, Cottonwood, Douglas, El Mirage, Flagstaff, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Goodyear, Guadalupe, Lake Havasu, Litchfield Park, Marana, Nogales, Oro Valley, Paradise Valley, Peoria, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Sedona, Sierra Vista, South Tucson, Surprise, Tolleson, Youngtown and Yuma.

Coconino, Maricopa, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma counties are also among those being offered financial assistance to help them develop plans for areas outside local city boundaries.

Owens said ADEQ intends to enter into a governmental agreement later this month with communities that choose to participate. Funds will be available as soon as July with those who have signed agreements.

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ADEQ Director Owens, Attorney General Goddard Fine Valley Refining $75,000 for Air Pollution Violations

PHOENIX (June 10, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens and Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced that Valley Refining, LLC, has agreed to pay more than $75,000 for violations of state air pollution control laws. The company operates a petroleum transmix facility in El Mirage, AZ.

According to the settlement agreement, the company admits having operated the facility with an expired air pollution control permit; failing to properly test and operate the vapor recovery system / thermal oxidizer that resulted in uncontrolled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being emitted into the atmosphere; and failing to submit a vapor recovery operating plan.

"Valley Refining is a large company that was well aware of the laws governing its operations," Owens said. "This action makes it clear that compliance with Arizona environmental laws is expected and that we will enforce those laws to protect the health of Arizona's citizens."

"The Attorney General's Office is very serious about pursing violations of our state's air pollution control laws," stated Attorney General, Terry Goddard. "These types of emissions have a significant impact on respiratory problems and it is up to DEQ and our office to safeguard and protect Arizonans' health."

The violations began to surface during an annual inspection of the facility in February 2001, when inspectors determined that the vapor collection and processing system was not working properly. In March 2001, ADEQ issued a notice for that violation, which allowed VOC emissions to escape into the atmosphere.

Despite reporting that the situation had been corrected in April 2001, Valley Refining disclosed in June 2001 that it had not yet made the necessary repairs.

Officials estimate that 29.9 tons of uncontrolled VOCs were released to the atmosphere during the 18-month period between January 2000 through June 2001.

During that time, ADEQ officials also learned that the company was planning to sell the facility and had been operating it on an expired air quality permit.

The company entered into an order of abatement by consent in August 2001 and agreed to operate the facility in compliance with the terms of the order until the issuance of an air quality permit. In September 2001, the facility was sold to Equilon Enterprises LLC which complied with the provisions detailed in the order until the proper air quality permit was issued in June 2002.

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ADEQ to Convene Community Action Council For South Phoenix Toxics Reduction

PHOENIX (June 10, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will convene its first community action council meeting Thursday, June 12, to begin developing a work plan for the reduction of public exposure to toxic substances in South Phoenix. The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center.

Attendees at the meeting will receive a detailed description of the project's scope and schedule from ADEQ staff.

ADEQ will be working with council members to identify the most problematic toxic releases in South Phoenix, to define the boundaries of the pilot study area, to develop strategies to reduce toxics and emissions to the air, water, and soil, to implement some of the strategies within the agreed-upon boundaries, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen strategies in reducing toxics and emissions.

The project, a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 9, is funded by a $270,000 EPA grant and builds upon recent ADEQ efforts in South Phoenix such as the cleanup of a 10-acre site near Buckeye Road and 5th Street contaminated with heavy metals from a former auto shredding facility and the department's increased monitoring and inspection of hazardous waste facilities in the area.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Promotes Program To Pay for Removal of Abandoned Underground Storage Tanks in State's Rural Areas

PHOENIX (June 10, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that Holbrook has become the latest Arizona community to take advantage of a program that pays for the removal and cleanup of abandoned underground storage tanks in cities and towns with fewer than 15,000 residents.

The Municipal Tank Closure and Corrective Action Program, administered by ADEQ, pays for removal costs as well as the costs associated with contaminant investigations and cleanups for tanks removed as part of the program.

Underground tanks found at abandoned gasoline stations, dry cleaning establishments, automotive repair shops and paint stores are examples of the types of tanks eligible for funding. The program also reimburses the city or town for the cost of preparing the application.

Since becoming ADEQ director in January 2003, Owens has emphasized this program in his dealings with officials in the state's rural areas. The program was created in 2001, and has thus far paid for the removal of 24 abandoned tanks from five communities. Applications have been approved or are pending approval in six other communities.

"This program is really a great tool to help small communities deal with abandoned tanks and the associated development issues," Owens said. "In many cases, the existence of these abandoned tanks hinders redevelopment or prevents someone from buying old or vacant commercial properties, so this is a program that benefits the whole community."

ADEQ estimates as many as 2,000 abandoned tanks exist along highways and in small communities around the state. Tanks eligible under the program include those on property inherited or purchased by people who did not fill or operate the tanks.

One such beneficiary is Terry Warnock, owner of an automotive supply store in Williams, who discovered abandoned, rusty gasoline tanks on commercial property she had purchased. She was initially skeptical about the state's offer to help.

"I doubted very much that the program was going to offer me any meaningful help with my problem," Warnock wrote in a letter to ADEQ following the removal of the tanks. "I'll spare you the sad story of what might have happened to my little business if we had to relocate or try to finance this project ourselves... this program has been a godsend." Following the removal of the tanks, Warnock was able to obtain financing that allowed her to expand her business. The removal was completed painlessly within six months, she wrote.

Another believer in the program is Clarkdale Town Clerk Joyce Driscoll, who had a UST removed that dated to the 1920's. "It sounded too good to be true, but it was and we had a really good experience," Driscoll said.

The city of Winslow applied for a grant and was able to successfully identify and remove five orphan tanks.

"Initially we thought if we were able to remove one tank it was a good step forward," said John Roche, Winslow city administrator."But we were actually able to remove five. I think it was a very successful program in our city."

Interested applicants should contact their city or town manager's office, which will complete the application and forward it to ADEQ for an eligibility review. As part of the review, ADEQ officials try to determine whether an owner of the tank, defined as a party who filled or operated the tank, can be identified and held accountable. If not, the tank qualifies for the program.

For more information about this program, which cities and towns are eligible, or to receive an application, please contact ADEQ's Underground Storage Tank Customer Service Manager Al Johnson, at (800) 234-5677.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Says Pipeline Safe, Closer Monitoring Required

PHOENIX (June 9, 2003)-- The 36-inch water pipeline carrying water from Chino Valley to Prescott is safe but will require additional monitoring and construction safeguards, according to a report released today by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens.

The report, based on a recently completed engineering study by Brown and Caldwell, resolves concerns raised by two previous pipeline studies that offered conflicting opinions about its safety and the need for corrective action. Brown and Caldwell is one of the nation's most experienced companies in pipeline design and operation

"Our primary concern throughout the entire process has been to ensure that the pipeline provides water safely and reliably," Owens said. "The good news is that this study resolves those concerns, and it does so without the need for major reconstruction. Although the process has taken some time, we are now confident that the pipeline is safe, and that is the most important thing to the people who live near it."

The report concludes that although the pipeline is safe, closer monitoring for corrosion is required to prevent leaks or breakages. The report also recommends additional investigation whenever roadways or other infrastructure are to be built over the pipeline to compensate for the lack of accurate information about trench bedding and backfill.

ADEQ's concerns about the 11½-;mile pipeline surfaced soon after its completion in June 2000. In October 2000, rains caused slumping and caving of the pipeline trench within the Town of Chino Valley, raising concerns about the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the high-pressure line.

Subsequent testing indicated that bedding and backfill installed around the pipe and over a portion of the pipe-s length did not meet regulatory design requirements, including compaction requirements. The bedding and backfill also did not conform with the plans and specifications approved prior to the construction of the project.

After a number of meetings with Prescott and Chino Valley officials, ADEQ entered an order requiring Prescott to develop remedial actions to correct those deficiencies.

In response to that order, Prescott hired AMEC Infrastructure to investigate the pipe. That report suggested substantial remediation was required to ensure the safety of the pipeline. Johansen Construction, which built the pipeline, hired Klepadlo and Associates, and that investigation concluded the pipe was essentially safe as constructed.

In March 2003, ADEQ hired Brown and Caldwell, to examine the two differing reports, as well as the report prepared by the pipe manufacturer, AMERON International. Brown and Caldwell delivered its report to ADEQ last week.

ADEQ plans to modify the compliance schedule to include the report's recommendations, a move officials said should ensure the pipeline will operate safely.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Unveils a Web-based System to Apply for Stormwater Discharge Permits

PHOENIX (June 9, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced the availability of a new online tool that allows construction site operators to quickly and efficiently apply for and receive authorization to discharge construction stormwater.

The Web-based system known as the "Smart NOI,"; for notice of intent, will help ease the challenge caused by a recent change to federal regulations that greatly expanded the number of construction projects that require permit coverage as part of an effort to reduce stormwater runoff pollution.

The regulation, which took effect in April, requires operators of construction projects that disturb an acre or more of land to obtain prior authorization to discharging stormwater, increasing the number of permit applications in Arizona from about 2,000 to 20,000 per year.

"Our goal is to reduce red tape and make this new federal permit requirement as user friendly as possible while protecting Arizona's environment," Owens said. "We recently held workshops around the state to explain the new requirements to construction site operators and owners. The Smart NOI will make the process easier and more efficient for them, especially those in rural Arizona."

The Smart NOI integrates geographic information system data with a wide variety of other information to identify projects located near unique waters, which are pristine rivers and lakes; impaired waters, where water quality standards are not being met; and endangered species habitat. The tool features a decision-making matrix to enable ADEQ to rapidly identify applicants who can receive immediate approval from those that need special attention.

ADEQ has worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in developing the tool. When an application is filed in an area located near threatened or endangered species or critical habitat, the system automatically notifies Arizona Game and Fish and USFWS and delays authorization to discharge for 32 business days so that those agencies may discuss project issues and options with the developer.

ADEQ assumed responsibility for the permitting process in Arizona in December 2002, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency transferred authority to regulate surface water discharges to ADEQ.

The permitting process known as AZPDES, for Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, is Arizona's program to protect the state&'s waters from pollution.

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