EPA Awards Nearly $4.5 Million Grant to Improve and Protect Arizona’s Water Quality
Funds will support Arizona’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan, which implements high priority projects that have the greatest water quality impacts
PHOENIX — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) $4,488,333 to carry out Arizona’s recently approved 2020-2024 Nonpoint Source State (NPS) Management Plan. Nonpoint source pollution is caused by rainfall moving over the ground, leading to runoff which picks up natural and man-made pollutants as it flows.
“This grant directly supports our shared goal of protecting Arizona’s critical water resources,” said EPA Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Arizona’s five-year NPS plan will employ best practices to reduce rainfall runoff-caused pollution of Arizona watersheds.”
“This grant funding is critical to improving surface water quality in Arizona,” said Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore. “Arizona uses this funding to implement on-the-ground projects that directly prevent, eliminate and reduce pollution and sources to Arizona’s surface waters.”
Arizona’s work under this grant is primarily focused on implementing projects to improve water quality and lead to delisting impaired waters. This year, half of the funds will support work to carry out Arizona’s updated Nonpoint Source State Management Plan. The second half of this year’s funds will support specific on-the-ground projects to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the Oak Creek watershed near Sedona, the Bradshaw Mountains near Prescott, and the Patagonia Mountains area near Nogales. To improve efficiency, ADEQ will directly fund projects where possible, instead of using a competitive grant process.
In total, during FY21 ADEQ will fund water quality improvement efforts at the 3R Mine, Poland Mine, Storm Cloud Mine, McKinley Mill, and across six projects to restore and protect the Oak Creek watershed.
Previous funding under this grant program has supported recent achievements such as a 58% decrease in copper concentration and 80% decrease in lead concentration in Turkey Creek (an hour’s drive southeast of Prescott, Arizona). These accomplishments were the result of a cleanup that entailed removing and consolidating approximately 190,000 cubic yards of mine tailings from the Golden Turkey and Golden Belt mines and almost 54,000 cubic yards of waste rock along Turkey Creek. The cleanup has helped improve the water quality of Turkey Creek for local residents who depend on it for water supply, ranching and recreation.
In Arizona, metals, E. Coli (bacteria), sediment, and fertilizers (nutrients) are the top sources of water pollution to surface water, such as streams, rivers, and lakes. Sources of these pollutants include livestock grazing, recreation, crop production, mining, forestry and wildlife.
Nonpoint source pollution, which can impact lakes, rivers, and groundwater, can be difficult to manage since it cannot be traced to a specific source. Controlling nonpoint source pollution is especially important due to the harmful effects that the pollutants have on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife.
The grant is part of EPA's 2020 Nonpoint Source Implementation Grant Program. Congress enacted Section 319 of the Clean Water Act in 1987 to control nonpoint sources of water pollution. For examples of how ADEQ has used Clean Water Act Section 319 grant funds to improve water quality visit: https://www.epa.gov/nps/success-stories-about-restoring-water-bodies-impaired-nonpoint-source-pollution.
Learn more about the NPS program: https://www.epa.gov/nps.