May 24, 2019

Arizona Cleans Up Contaminated Groundwater Sites

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is helping homes and businesses with plumes of toxic water underneath them

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is helping homes and businesses with plumes of toxic water underneath them

Plumes of potentially toxic water are sitting underneath many homes, businesses and schools in Arizona. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is out to change that.

The ADEQ investigates and oversees the cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater through the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) program, according to ABC 15.

In Arizona, most of the state uses groundwater for drinking water. However, plumes of potentially toxic water are sitting underneath homes and schools in the state, according to ABC 15.

"About 44% of Arizona's drinking water comes from groundwater," said Laura Malone, ADEQ waste programs director.

Malone’s department oversees 36 contaminated sites in the WQARF program. Malone said that the sites end up on the list in many different ways.

"A citizen complaint. Maybe a well owner has detected some chemicals in their well. We might do an inspection at a company and realize that their disposal practices have not been the best," she said to ABC 15.

Nineteen sites are located in Maricopa County and have different contaminants, according to ABC 15. Chemicals such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) are most prevalent. The U.S. EPA calls TCE as “carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure,” and PCE as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

"If the groundwater was not effectively remediated then yes, there is that potential," Malone said to ABC 15.

Chemicals have been found at places such as the North Plume, which is used for manufacturing. Malone said that “dry cleaners continue to be one of our major sources of groundwater contamination,” according to ABC 15. Plumes in Central Phoenix have sites that have used or currently use dry cleaner.

According to ABC 15, ADEQ has worked out a remediation plan with the company responsible in 2013. Malone said the main goal is getting sites off the list. The pace of site cleanup depends on funding, according to ABC 15.

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