Newsroom: Press Release Archive: November 2003
  • Nov. 19, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Praises Federal "Tools for Schools" Program
  • Nov. 14, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Issues Consent Order for Wellton Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District
  • Nov. 13, 2003: ADEQ Issues Second Violation to Kinder Morgan
  • Nov. 7, 2003: ADEQ Seeks Public Comments on Draft of 2004 Status of Water Quality in Arizona Report
  • Nov. 3, 2003: ADEQ Lifts Statewide Smoke Advisory

ADEQ Director Steve Owens Praises Federal "Tools for Schools" Program

PHOENIX (Nov. 19, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Tools for Schools" indoor air quality program, as one of several areas where the department is working with federal officials to improve environmental conditions that affect children's health and education.

The program helps schools and school districts carry out a practical plan of action to prevent and resolve most indoor air quality problems at a low cost by using straightforward activities and in-house staff.

"Studies consistently show that air quality, lighting and other environmental factors are extremely important to the learning process," Owens said. "The EPA's Tools for Schools program provides teachers and other school officials with valuable information they can use to improve school environments for their students and staff."

EPA Region 9 in San Francisco has been assisting Arizona school districts in implementing the Tools for Schools program since 1998.

The program has two components. One is called Tools for Schools , which has an action kit and the other is the IAQ Design Tools for Schools website , which has online checklists and references for facilities planners and maintenance personnel. The Tools for Schools action kit is focused on prevention at existing schools, while the IAQ Design Tools for Schools is focused on construction and renovation of schools.

Though the program's primary focus is on indoor air quality, school districts also are encouraged to embrace the concept of designing "high-performance" schools, which integrate concerns such as energy efficiency, air quality, lighting and safety.

In October, ADEQ launched another joint project with the EPA to help reduce the use of pesticides in Arizona schools. Funded by a federal grant, the integrated pest management program uses a combination of mechanical and biological methods to minimize the need for chemical pesticides to manage insects, rodents and other pests safely.

The program is modeled after a highly successful ongoing program in the Kyrene School District, which has demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach in managing pests and reducing the costs associated with pest management in the district.

"Integrated pest management is a cost-effective, common sense approach to keep children safe and reduce our reliance on chemicals to manage pests in schools," Owens said. "It can dramatically reduce the potential exposure of school children to these substances while reducing the long-term costs associated with pest management at schools."

ADEQ also is working closely with the EPA on the department's Children's Environmental Health Project, which seeks to reduce health risks to Arizona children posed by exposure to environmental hazards or pollutants.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Issues Consent Order for Wellton Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District

PHOENIX (Nov. 14, 2003) -- After extensive discussions with the Wellton Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens has issued a consent order requiring the district to follow federal standards for surface water providers.

The order, dated Oct. 30, 2003, requires district officials to comply with new federal regulations that mandate open-canal public water systems where people are accessing water for domestic purposes, to meet U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act standards. Previously, open-canal providers were not defined as a public water system, but in an effort to protect drinking water for residents using water from open-canal providers, an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act placed providers such as WMIDD under that umbrella.

The district provides water through a 350-mile system of concrete-lined open canals for customers in the Wellton Mohawk Valley, along the Gila River approximately 30 miles east of Yuma. The organization delivers water mostly for farmland irrigation, but the potential for household use made this consent order necessary.

"This type of agreement will help ensure that clean, safe drinking water is available for residents in this area," said Steve Owens, director of ADEQ. "We are pleased that the district is working toward implementing the changes outlined in the order, and we feel certain that this can be done within the required time period."

ADEQ officials say that the surface water, particularly when exposed to surface water runoff from nearby crops, could contain numerous contaminants that could be harmful to individuals attempting to use it for household purposes.

ADEQ officials have worked with WMIDD to bring them into compliance with the new regulations. The consent order calls for the district to ensure customers are not using untreated surface water for household purposes (drinking, cooking, bathing, or oral hygiene), and to allow customers to select from a list of potable water providers. WMIDD has 180 days from Oct. 30 to finalize these measures.

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ADEQ Issues Second Violation to Kinder Morgan

PHOENIX (Nov. 13, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality today issued a second notice of violation to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, significantly increasing the potential penalties the company faces as a result of groundwater contamination from the July 30 pipeline break.

The first violation, issued by ADEQ Sept. 11, covered the one-time discharge of petroleum products to surface waters of the state. That violation carried a maximum penalty of $25,000 under state law. The notice issued today charges the company with a violation of groundwater quality standards.

"The discovery of groundwater contamination resulting from the pipeline break adds substantially to the company's liability for cleanup and damages," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. "Each day that the contamination spreads raises the associated penalty."

As part of its efforts to assess and cleanup the site, ADEQ has requested details from Kinder Morgan concerning its calculations for the amount of gasoline discharged from the pipeline break. That discharge was initially estimated at 10,000 gallons, but has since been revised by Kinder Morgan to more than 16,000 gallons.

In the notice issued today, ADEQ directed the company to provide detailed calculations and methods within five working days.

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ADEQ Seeks Public Comments on Draft of 2004 Status of Water Quality in Arizona Report

PHOENIX (Nov. 7, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has released a preliminary draft of the 2004 Status of Water Quality in Arizona Report, and officials are looking for the public's feedback before a final version is sent to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The annual report seeks to inform Arizonans of the overall health of state waters, as well as specifying state waterways that may be suffering under poor ecological conditions. The report also contains information on the methods used in analyzing the quality of state waters, and provides extensive background information on the ecology and hydrology of the state.

The report is available at http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/assessment/index.html. A copy may also be requested by phoning Danese Cameron at (602) 771-4569 or toll free at (800) 243-5677.

When ordering a copy, please indicate whether you want the report as a PDF file on a CD with color graphics and photos, or a black and white paper copy. Applicable fees for copies and CDs will be applied. Comments can be submitted until Dec. 5, 2003 to Melanie Diroll or by postal mail addressed to ADEQ, Hydrologic Support and Assessment Section, 1110 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Specific questions about the report can be directed to Diroll at (602) 771-4616.

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ADEQ Lifts Statewide Smoke Advisory

PHOENIX (Nov. 3, 2003) -- As a result of weekend rain and cooler temperatures that have reduced particulate levels statewide, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality today lifted the statewide smoke advisory it issued Oct. 29.

ADEQ also has recalled equipment and personnel that have been monitoring air quality in Yuma, Quartzsite, Lake Havasu City and Kingman since Oct. 29.

At its peak, mid-morning on Oct. 30, smoke concentrations from Southern California wildfires briefly pushed air quality readings into the unhealthy range in Yuma and Kingman.

"State and county health officials found the data provided by our mobile monitoring equipment to be very helpful and valuable in predicting health effects of smoke and dust in western Arizona communities," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens."We are glad to see that conditions are returning to normal."

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