Press release from Tucson Water:
June 25, 2021
Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Monday announced $2 million in state funding to help Tucson Water restart a treatment plant that was forced to shut down because of severe groundwater contamination.
The new state funding will fast-track efforts to bring the Tucson Airport Remediation Plant (TARP) back online and safely continue treating contaminated groundwater in the area.
“Making sure all Arizonans receive safe and clean drinking water remains a top priority of our state,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “This funding will help Tucson Water bring an important water treatment facility back online and secure Tucson’s water supply for future generations. Every source of water in Arizona is critical as we face drought conditions and the risk of a drier future.”
Tucson Water will suspend operations of the TARP due to increasing levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in nearby groundwater while constructing a State-funded temporary pipeline and permanent outfall structure to convey treated water leaving TARP to the dry riverbed of the Santa Cruz River north of Irvington Road. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and Tucson Water are working on an intergovernmental agreement to approve the funding this week.
“We continue to call on the federal government to take prompt action to address PFAS contamination in Arizona,” Governor Ducey added. “Arizona is acting now to contain the threat of PFAS, but we are asking the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to address DOD-related PFAS contamination of groundwater throughout Arizona and protect the health and safety of Arizonans.”
Tucson Water has operated TARP since 1994 to successfully treat and contain a plume of contaminated groundwater near Tucson International Airport, removing industrial chemicals TCE and 1,4-Dioxane and delivering the cleaned water into the drinking water system. On June 8, the utility announced that out of an abundance of caution and due to rising levels of newer contaminants in the area groundwater (PFAS, also emanating from the airport area), it would suspend operations on June 21 as it seeks alternative end-uses for the treated water. These alternatives include discharge to the Santa Cruz River and/or Tucson Water’s reclaimed water system, which is used for landscape irrigation. Tucson Water assures the public that contaminated water has not been served to customers from TARP. These measures are being pursued to protect public health, and to ensure no contaminants enter the drinking water system in the future.
Arizona’s investment will help the City of Tucson get the plant back online as quickly as possible, which is critical to meeting the plant’s original mission of containing the decades-old plume of groundwater contaminated with TCE and 1,4-Dioxane. “ADEQ and the State of Arizona join the City of Tucson in our commitment to protect the drinking water supply for…