Arizona Announces $3 Million Public Water System Sampling Plan

Dec. 22, 2022
The effort aims to protect Arizona’s drinking water from PFAS contamination. ADEQ will sample public water systems for PFAS in every county in Arizona through Sept 2023.

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality press release

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) today initiated its proactive statewide public water system sampling effort to protect Arizona’s drinking water from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. ADEQ will sample public water systems for PFAS in every county in Arizona through September 2023.

“ADEQ’s statewide sampling of public water systems in Arizona is critical to understanding where PFAS is so that steps can be taken to reduce people’s exposure to PFAS in drinking water and to connect affected public water systems to funding sources to achieve solutions,” said ADEQ Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore. “In Arizona, small water systems serving less than 3,300 people account for 90 percent or about 1,200 of the approximate 1,500 public water systems, and ADEQ is committed to ensuring these systems, which serve nearly half a million people, are tested for PFAS.”

ADEQ’s proactive sampling plan goes above and beyond the PFAS sampling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require for Arizona public water systems as part of its fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5) that begins in January 2023. EPA’s UCMR5 only will require public water systems that serve more than 3,300 customers to test for PFAS.

ADEQ’s statewide PFAS sampling plan will include all Arizona public water systems that have not yet been tested by ADEQ, the public water system or under EPA’s UCMR:

  • Beginning today through September 2023, ADEQ will conduct PFAS sampling for about 1,200 public water systems. If a public water system already is sampling for PFAS, ADEQ will request their data.
  • ADEQ’s sampling activities will be conducted under an EPA-approved PFAS Quality Assurance Program Plan and similar to EPA’s UCMR5, the samples will be analyzed using EPA Methods 533 and 537.1.
  • As ADEQ PFAS sample results become available, ADEQ will share validated data with the public water system owners and operators.
  • All data collected by ADEQ will be validated, verified and also made available to the public through an interactive map on ADEQ’s website.

When ADEQ’s sampling results show a public water system has a PFAS detection higher than an EPA health advisory level, ADEQ will contact the public water system to discuss EPA’s recommendations that they:

  • Take steps to inform customers,
  • Examine steps to limit exposure, and
  • Undertake additional sampling to assess the level, scope, and source of contamination.

To assist public water systems with potential PFAS challenges, ADEQ compiled an Arizona Public Water System PFAS Toolkit with information regarding funding, sampling, customer communication, and potential PFAS treatment options.

PFAS resolution options must be carefully determined and consider the number of people served, system design and the level of PFAS reduction needed. These options generally include installing a PFAS treatment unit, turning off an impacted well (if other wells are in production), installing in-home point-of-use water treatment systems and others.

“Arizona’s proactive PFAS sampling has well-positioned Arizona to continue our work with public water systems to identify and address PFAS drinking water challenges early and head on,” Baggiore added. “While EPA’s PFAS health advisories are non-regulatory and non-enforceable today, we expect EPA to set federal PFAS drinking water standards that public water systems must meet as early as the end of next year.”

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