Funds will support Arizona’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan, which implements high priority projects that have the greatest water quality impacts.
Improving Arizona’s Water Quality
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. Initially, rainfall moving over the ground, leads to runoff which picks up pollutants as it flows, causes nonpoint source pollution.
“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.”
EPA’s Grant Funding
Arizona’s work under this grant is focused on implementing projects to improve water quality as well as to 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 especially support specific on-the-ground projects to reduce nonpoint source pollution. These will occur 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.
Initially, previous funding under this grant program has supported recent achievements. These include a 58% decrease in copper concentration and 80% decrease in lead concentration in Turkey Creek. Accordingly, Turkey Creek is located 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. Additionally, almost 54,000 cubic yards of waste rock along Turkey Creek. were also removed. The cleanup has helped improve the water quality of Turkey Creek for local residents. Especially, they depend on the creek 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 can be difficult to manage since it cannot be traced to a specific source. It can impact lakes, rivers, and groundwater. Controlling nonpoint source pollution is especially important due to the harmful effects that the pollutants have. These affect 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.