Newsroom: Press Release Archive: September 2006
  • Sept. 21, 2006: ADEQ to Adopt Standards for Chemicals in Public Drinking Water
  • Sept. 19, 2006: ADEQ Offering Water Quality Improvement Grants
  • Sept. 18, 2006: ADEQ Issues Air Quality Permit Renewal for Arizona Clean Fuels Refinery in Yuma County
  • Sept. 13, 2006: Terry Goddard and ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announce $10,000 Settlement for Illegal Asbestos Dumping in Yuma
  • Sept. 12, 2006: ADEQ Cites Phelps Dodge for Air Quality Violations at Green Valley Mine
  • Sept. 11, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces that State Superfund Program has Cleaned Up 16.3 Billion Gallons of Groundwater in Fiscal Year 2006
  • Sept. 1, 2006: ADEQ Advises Eastern Arizona Residents Not to Swim in Gila River due to High E. Coli Levels

ADEQ to Adopt Standards for Chemicals in Public Drinking Water

PHOENIX (Sept. 21, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ will adopt standards to regulate the use of chemicals and equipment that come into contact with drinking water, further ensuring that Arizonans have a safe, reliable supply of drinking water.

Under a law that takes effect today, ADEQ will prescribe minimum standards for public water systems to use chemicals, additives and drinking water system components that come into contact with drinking water.

In 2004, ADEQ revoked the certification of a well operator who used household bleach, pool chlorine and other improper chemicals to disinfect the Rose Valley public drinking water system in Peoria, posing a potential hazard to human health. ADEQ's decision was upheld by the state Office of Administrative Hearings last year.

"The new law gives ADEQ an essential tool to make sure public drinking water systems dispense water that is safe to drink," Director Owens said.

Under the new law, ADEQ is adopting existing standards by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), a non-profit organization that develops standards and provides product certification and education in the field of public health and safety. NSF standards for drinking water chemicals, additives and components have been adopted by 44 other states.

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ADEQ Offering Water Quality Improvement Grants

PHOENIX (Sept. 19, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens announced today that ADEQ is accepting Water Quality Improvement Grant applications in order to allocate $1.5 million for projects that improve water quality throughout Arizona.

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

Each applicant must provide 40 percent in nonfederal matching funds to implement an "on-the-ground" project to improve and protect water quality in 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 or other ground water sources. Agriculture, forestry, grazing, septic systems, recreational boating, urban runoff and construction all contribute to nonpoint source pollution.

"The Water Quality Improvement Grant Program provides much-needed funding at the local level to implement creative approaches to improve watersheds," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. "Through federal, state and local partnership, we are achieving cleaner, safer waters and ensuring the long-term integrity of Arizona's precious water resources."

The Grant Manual and application forms can be downloaded from ADEQ's Water Quality Improvement Grant Program.

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

  • Flagstaff: September 25, 2 p.m., ADEQ Northern Regional Office, 1801 W. Route 66
  • Eagar: September 26, 10:30 a.m., Eagar Council Chambers, 22 W. 2nd Street
  • Tucson: September 28, 1 p.m., ADEQ Southern Regional Office, Suite 433, 400 W. Congress
  • Prescott: October 3, 10 a.m., The Grove Studio (next to Prescott Creeks), 119 Grove Avenue
  • Safford: October 11, 10 a.m., Graham County General Services Building, 921 Thatcher Boulevard
  • Phoenix: October 24, 10 a.m., ADEQ, Room 5100B, 1110 W. Washington St.

For questions or to RSVP to the grant workshops, please contact Rebecca Followill, Grant Coordinator, at (602) 771-4635, (800) 234-5677.

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ADEQ Issues Air Quality Permit Renewal for Arizona Clean Fuels Refinery in Yuma County

PHOENIX (Sept. 18, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the department has issued a renewal of the air quality permit for the Arizona Clean Fuels (ACF) refinery proposed near Tacna in Yuma County.

ADEQ issued an air quality permit for the refinery last year. Under Arizona law, ACF had 18 months - until November 2006 - to commence construction of the refinery or the permit would lapse. Earlier this year ACF advised ADEQ that the company was unable to commence construction by the deadline, and the company applied for a renewal of the permit.

"We are really just reissuing the same permit we issued last year," ADEQ Director Owens said. "It is still the toughest air quality permit ever crafted for a refinery."

Under the permit renewal, ACF is required to commence construction of the refinery within 18 months of the permit's effective date, which means that the new 18-month period ends during April 2008. It puts the same strict limits on potential emissions from the refinery as the previous permit. Like the previous permit, the renewed permit is good for five years.

The refinery would be located on approximately 1,450-acres near Tacna and could produce approximately 150,000 barrels per day of motor fuels, including approximately 85,000 barrels per day of motor gasoline, 35,000 barrels per day of diesel fuel and 30,000 barrels per day of jet fuel.

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Terry Goddard and ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announce $10,000 Settlement for Illegal Asbestos Dumping in Yuma

PHOENIX (Sept. 13, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens and Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced a consent judgment that requires Yuma resident Peter Auza to pay $10,000 for illegally dumping asbestos-containing waste material (ACWM), a violation of Arizona's environmental laws.

In 2003, Auza purchased several trailers that contained regulated amounts of ACWM. Rather than properly dispose of this material, Auza illegally dumped it on privately owned property, burning a portion of the ACWM, in violation of state and federal laws.

ADEQ inspectors found unsealed ACWM disposal bags, as well as visible emissions due to burning of ACWM on the site. Because Auza failed to comply with state and federal asbestos regulations governing the handling and disposal of regulated ACWM, ADEQ issued a Notice of Violation in 2004 and filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court.

"Because asbestos is a hazardous material, handling and disposal of it must be conducted carefully and in accordance with the law," Owens said. "The penalty reflects the serious nature of the violations."

In addition to agreeing to pay the $10,000 civil penalty, Auza assisted efforts to clean up and properly dispose of the ACWM and ensure that dumping will not occur again on the site.

"Illegal dumping is a problem that affects public health and our environment, as well as having a negative effect on property values," Goddard said. "We must enforce the law to discourage illegal dumping to protect our families and neighborhoods."

The consent judgment is subject to court approval.

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ADEQ Cites Phelps Dodge for Air Quality Violations at Green Valley Mine

PHOENIX (Sept. 12, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Phelps Dodge for air quality violations at the company's Sierrita mine in Green Valley in Pima County.

On three separate occasions in late August and early September, tailings from Phelps Dodge's copper mine operations became airborne and impacted the town of Green Valley. Mine tailings dust infiltrated residents' homes and yards, as well as settling on several neighborhood streets.

"Phelps Dodge must control the tailings from their copper mine," said Director Owens. "It is simply unacceptable for loose tailings to be blown across the Green Valley community. This must not happen again."

The NOV requires Phelps Dodge to advise ADEQ within seven days of the immediate actions the company has taken to prevent the tailings from becoming airborne and protect the community from potentially harmful airborne tailings. Within thirty days Phelps Dodge also must advise ADEQ of the steps the company is taking to fix the problem permanently.

A NOV is a compliance tool used by ADEQ to put a party on notice that the agency believes a significant violation of environmental law has occurred.

Phelps Dodge faces potential penalties of up to $10,000 per day for each of its violations of state environmental laws and conditions of the company's air quality permit.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces that State Superfund Program has Cleaned Up 16.3 Billion Gallons of Groundwater in Fiscal Year 2006

PHOENIX (Sept. 11, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that through Arizona's Superfund program, the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF), the State has cleaned up more than 16.3 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2006.

In addition to the 16.3 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater that was treated during Fiscal Year 2006 (July 1, 2005 - June 30, 2006) under the auspices WQARF program, more than 3.4 million pounds of metals, 2,816 tons of soils and 113,945 pounds of volatile organic substances were removed from contaminated sites throughout Arizona.

Under the WQARF program ADEQ identifies, assesses and cleans up soil and groundwater that is contaminated with hazardous substances.

"These cleanup figures show that the WQARF program is continuing to protect the citizens and the environment of our state by cleaning up contaminated groundwater throughout Arizona" Director Owens said. "The prolonged drought has made it even more important that our precious groundwater resources are preserved and protected for future generations of Arizonans."

Owens noted in Fiscal Year 2005 (July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2005) the WQARF program had cleaned up more than 13.3 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater and removed more than 3.2 million pounds of metals, 248.24 tons of soils and 28,572 pounds of volatile organic substances from contaminated sites throughout Arizona.

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ADEQ Advises Eastern Arizona Residents Not to Swim in Gila River due to High E. Coli Levels

PHOENIX (Sept. 1, 2006) -- With people traveling throughout Arizona over the holiday weekend, ADEQ Director Steve Owens today advised residents in Graham County and the San Carlos Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona to avoid swimming in the Gila River due to elevated levels of E. coli and Vibrio bacteria.

ADEQ, the Graham County Health Department, Indian Health Services and the San Carlos Environmental Protection Agency last week obtained water samples from the Gila River below the Solomon Bridge to the Highway 70 crossing below Bylas. The samples were tested and found to have elevated levels of E. coli and Vibrio bacteria. Other portions of the Gila River may be affected, but have not yet been tested to determine if the levels are also elevated. Officials from the Graham County Department of Public Health, The San Carlos Tribe, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Department of Health Services urge visitors to seek alternative recreational sites until further testing can be done.

The state surface water standard for E. coli is 235 CFU/mL. Sampling results from portions of the Gila River on the San Carlos Indian Reservation contained e coli levels ranging from 1300-5800 CFU/mL.

"We urge people in Graham County and on the San Carlos Indian Reservation not to swim in the Gila River over the Labor Day weekend. Exposure to E. coli could result in serious illness," Director Owens said. "Further sampling and testing will be conducted on the Gila River to determine whether advisories will be lifted or modified to reflect current conditions."

E-Coli and Vibrio bacteria can cause diarrhea and wound infections. The risk is greatest for young children, the elderly, those with a compromised immune system and those with open cuts or wounds. Since there is an increased risk of getting sick, people should avoid swimming, wading, or water recreation where water could be swallowed or get into the mouth, nose or eyes.

For more information, the public may contact the Graham County Health Department at (928) 428-1962 or the San Carlos Apache Tribe EPA at (928) 475-2218.

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