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Water--Aquifer Protection:
aquifer protection permits; post closure procedure

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: SB1274
Sponsor: Griffin, Barto, Burges, et al.
Legislative Session: 2014 Legislative Session

water

Protect Arizona’s Groundwater 

 


SB1274 was amended in the House committee to clarify the point of compliance language, so we have fewer concerns about the bill. 

SB1274 aquifer protection permits; post closure procedure
(Griffin, Barto, Burges, et al.) makes several changes to the cost estimate and financial assurance provisions of the aquifer protection permit program, particularly related to facility closure requirements. Most of these seem fine.

The provision which removes the ability of the director to require remedial action as a condition of an APP is a problem. As proposed, the director must have the consent of the applicant to do this. This ensures that virtually no remedial action or mitigation will be included in an APP and removes an important tool for improving aquifer water quality.

 The language under 49-244 relating to the point of compliance may be okay now, but we still do not like the anti-degredation language overall. Those who discharge should have to meet the drinking water standards.  

Status

05/05/2014 - It was signed by the Governor.

Action Needed

No action is requested at this time.

More information

The bill was amended to clarify a few issues, although we still have concerns about removing the provisions that allow for requiring clean up in an aquifer protection permit.

Background

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has a responsibility, pursuant to A.R.S. § 49-104 relating to the powers and duties of the department and director, to ensure that it develops policies, plans, and programs “to protect the environment” [A.R.S. § 49-104(A)(1)] and also to “[p]romote and coordinate the protection and enhancement of the quality of water resources consistent with the environmental policy of this state” [A.R.S. § 49-104(A)(7)]. Furthermore, the statute requires that the agency prevent and abate water pollution [A.R.S. § 49-104(A)(10)].

Arizona’s Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) program was a landmark program when passed in 1986 as part of the Environmental Quality Act. Rather than merely focus on remediation – trying to clean up a mess after the fact – and enforcement, it focuses on prevention.  The program is aimed at keeping pollutants out of our precious aquifers and ensuring that those aquifers are in good shape for future generations. This is both more environmentally responsible and cheaper in the long run. It is especially important as it is often members of the public (the taxpayers) who have to pick up the tab for cleanup. Arizona also decided at that time that all of its aquifers are important and should be designated as drinking water aquifers – that is to protect their quality for the future. [See 49-224 (B)].

Over the years, industries, especially the mining industry, have whittled away at the APP program as you can see from the long list of exemptions that exist and the general permit provisions. Nonetheless, it is generally a good program.

     
     

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